Sacramento Running News

Running news and gossip from in and around Sacramento

No. Hard Running Isn’t Going to Kill You.

March 02, 2015 By: John Blue Category: General Running News, Science

scienceA few weeks ago, every non-running friend and relative sent me some version of this story: Fast Running is as Deadly as Sitting on the Couch!

I was immediately suspicious since the findings of this most recent study: 1. Don’t mesh with a ton of other studies, and 2. Don’t seem to mesh with my personal observations.

They report: “A study of 1,098 runners found that those who ran the fastest were nine times more likely to die prematurely within 12 years than those who enjoyed a more sedate pace of around 5mph for two or three times a week.”

Wow! If this were reflected in the world around me, then I’d have a lot fewer people to race than I do.

Thankfully, the good Alex Hutchinson at Sweat Science took the time to shred this lame study. Go ahead and read it. He’ll put your mind at ease.

In general, the number of deaths is so small that it is pointless to draw any conclusion from them.

Yes, the conclusion of the study (that “strenuous” jogging is as bad as being sedentary) is based on two deaths over more than a decade of follow-up. (Thank goodness a third person didn’t die, or public health authorities would be banning jogging.)

As Justin Wolfers says, writing at the New York Times blog TheUpshot,

In fact, the main thing the study shows is that small samples yield unreliable estimates that cannot be reliably discerned from the effects of chance. And the main thing the reaction shows is that perhaps we are all a bit too quick to believe medical studies that tell us what we want to hear.

I think the technical term for this is “confirmation bias.”

From the looks of things, I think there is plenty of evidence that running is quite good for you. This is fortunate. I don’t know about you, but I plan to keep on running as long and as fast as I can.


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