Running discoveries from systematic reviews and meta-analyses

No pun on words intended. I agreed to give a talk this week on the science of running at a pub. Seemed like a good idea at the time for many reasons. I love to run. I recognize that practice in speaking is invaluable. I also like to reach a different audience once in a while in promoting evidence-based decisions and science in general. Running is just another example wherein evidence can facilitate informed decisions. There are over 100,000 primary research articles on the physiology of running alone. Eye of the tiger.


I have been running (and not getting anywhere) for 30 years. Helps me think, and it also benefits others by ‘somewhat’ reducing my twitchiness. Here were my personal discoveries in engaging and processing some of the research literature on this topic. I read none of this prior to this talk preparation, ever, in deciding whether to continue running as a personal choice.

1. Systematic reviews and meta-analyses continue to be the most rapid, effective tools in getting up to speed on the research for a given topic.
2. The risk of injury from running is low unless you run at really high intensities or run really long long distances. Intriguing pattern.
3. Running definitely increases heart health. Many other health outcomes consistently improve with running, but the heart is a big winner.
4. Less is more in terms of footwear unless you have form issues.
5. The benefits from recreational running and light running in sports exceed those of swimming.

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