globe magazine | Perspective

Why is Boston so obsessed with exercise?

As symptoms of exercise obsession go, the Boston Marathon is just the beginning.

WINTER SUNDAY MORNINGS on Commonwealth Avenue in Newton are a blur of polypropylene and spandex. Legions of runners in fluorescent moisture-wicking fabrics labor up the hills; squadrons of cyclists in jerseys with exotic logos hurtle down them. While much of America is still in bed, this is rush hour in fitness-crazy Boston. “It’s cult-like,” says Adam Naylor, a sports psychologist and director of the Boston University Athletic Enhancement Center. “If you step back, you would think this is a little insane.”

We not only run and bike, but row, swim, ski, lift, climb, blade, walk, spin, and play at levels that make the rest of the country look sluggish. Our cars are plastered with “26.2” and “13.1” stickers — and we know what they mean. When schools in other places need to raise money, they have a bake sale; around here, we hold a 5K.

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