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Walk or run for exercise? Vox provides informative look at risks and benefits of both

Rating

5 Star

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Should you walk or run for exercise? Here's what the science says.

Our Review Summary

Vox’s story competently compares the risks and benefits of walking vs. running, using multiple high-quality studies as the basis for its conclusions. In particular, the story does a great job quantifying the potential risks of running and of comparing the likelihood of injury from running to those for walking.

 

Why This Matters

The United States is facing an epidemic of overweight and obesity, with more than one-third of U.S. adults now qualifying as obese. Increasing the amount of exercise we get can play a major role in reducing overweight and obesity, and both running and walking are popular exercise activities. This story will help people make an informed choice as to which might benefit them better.

According to Nielsen Scarborough data from Spring 2016, more than 64 million Americans reported running or jogging for exercise, and the CDC estimates that more than 145 million U.S. adults include walking as part of their exercise routine.

Criteria

Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Not Applicable

The story does not mention costs, but both walking and running are inexpensive and widely accessible, so we’ll rate this N/A.

However, cost does play a role here, albeit minor, so we think the story would have been stronger if it had included a couple points: Most running experts acknowledge that wearing cheap (often lower-quality) running shoes increases the likelihood of injury, and even those who are walking for exercise need shoes that provide good arch and ankle support. Also, many people do not live in neighborhoods conducive to outdoor exercise (from high traffic and/or pollution, or safety issues), and end up spending money at a gym or on buying a treadmill.

Does the story adequately quantify the benefits of the treatment/test/product/procedure?

Not Satisfactory

This was a tough call–the story does an impressive job of discussing various benefits of both walking and running and of comparing the health benefits of the two types of exercise. Yet, they were very general takeaways, and we wanted to know more specifics. For example:

Even five to 10 minutes per day of jogging at around 6 miles per hour can reduce the risk of death from cardiovascular disease and other causes.

We wondered by how much does it reduce the risk of death from heart disease?

Does the story adequately explain/quantify the harms of the intervention?

Satisfactory

The story does a very good job of quantifying the potential risks of running and of comparing the likelihood of injury from running to those for walking.

Does the story seem to grasp the quality of the evidence?

Satisfactory

The writer demonstrates an appreciation of the quality of the evidence, noting that she began by looking for randomized control trials and systematic reviews, which are the highest-quality studies. Not every study to which the story links appears to have been a randomized control trial or a systematic review, but all were high-quality studies.

Does the story commit disease-mongering?

Satisfactory

The story avoids disease-mongering. It seems to have been targeted to audiences who already understand the health risks of inactivity, but nonetheless, a sentence or two about the danger of a sedentary lifestyle would have been of benefit.

Does the story use independent sources and identify conflicts of interest?

Satisfactory

The story includes independent sources, and there were no potential conflicts of interests that we could detect.

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?

Satisfactory

The point of the story is to compare the health benefits and risks of walking versus running, and it does that effectively.

Does the story establish the availability of the treatment/test/product/procedure?

Not Applicable

While it’s certainly true that some people in the United States might have a harder time finding space places to run or walk, it’s reasonable to argue that both activities are available to most everyone.

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?

Not Applicable

Humans have been walking and running for our entire history on the planet, and the story doesn’t claim to be discussing any new approach.

Does the story appear to rely solely or largely on a news release?

Satisfactory

The story is not reliant on a news release. The author clearly put significant time and effort into doing the background research needed to answer the question she began with, which was what the scientific research says about the benefits and risks of walking versus running for exercise.

Total Score: 6 of 7 Satisfactory

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