Science: Twins and Research

A couple of interesting stories have been published that have implications for those interested in exercise and fitness. One highlights the value of exercise and the other discusses why you shouldn’t pin your hopes or change your practices on the basis of every scientific advance that hits the news.

One Twin Exercises, the Other Doesn’t

twins-exerciseA recent article in the New York Times looks at the effect of exercise on identical twins. While there have been many longitudinal studies on the effects of exercise on people as they grow up, there haven;t been any effective control experiments. But research using twins who are genetically identical, share very similar cultural upbringings but have undertaken different exercise regimes.

The new study, which was published this month in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, researchers at the University of Jyvaskyla and other institutions in Finland, found that genetically identical twins looked surprisingly different beneath the skin and skull. The sedentary twins had lower endurance capacities, higher body fat percentages, and signs of insulin resistance, signalling the onset of metabolic problems. Interestingly, the twins tended to have very similar diets, whatever their workout routines, so food choices were unlikely to have contributed to health differences.

This is why you shouldn’t believe that exciting new medical study

group_of_scientistsWe often hear about new research breakthroughs on the news that promise new medicines or treatments. But in 2003, researchers writing in the American Journal of Medicine looked at 101 studies published in top scientific journals between 1979 and 1983 that claimed a new therapy or medical technology was very promising. Only five of the 101 made it to market within a decade. Just one was still extensively used at the time of their publication.

Among the many interesting findings in the study, the researchers discovered only 3,000 of 50,000 new journal articles published each year are well-designed and relevant enough to inform patient care. And an estimated 85 percent, or $200 billion, of annual global spending on research is wasted on badly designed or redundant studies.

So, next time you feel the urge to jump on the bandwagon of a new piece of research think about whether it’s really worth the effort of changing what might already be an effective training and recovery regime.

Leave a Reply