Okay, whether exercise is good isn’t really in question. But there are so many pseudoscientific myths surrounding sports and exercise that it’s always worth looking more closely at some of the claims.
In this episode of The Studies Show, Tom and Stuart look into two widely-believed claims about exercise. First, does stretching your muscles before exercising actually help you in any way? Second, does exercise help alleviate the symptoms of depression? And then, they ask a bonus question inspired by the quality of the evidence on the previous two: why is so much of sports science so crap?
The Studies Show is brought to you by Works in Progress, the brilliant magazine of ideas about human progress. If you’re at all interested in science and technology, and in reading detailed, well-researched, beautifully-illustrated articles about some surprising and fascinating scientific topics, then Works in Progress is the magazine for you. What’s more, it’s all free. Take a look at their website at this link.
Old (and bad) 1983 study on stretching and muscle injury
Review questioning the theoretical basis of the supposed benefit of stretching
2020 systematic review and meta-analysis of the evidence for (among other things) stretching
2005 review of the same, with very similar results
2011 Cochrane Review of stretching to prevent delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS)
The strange fad of “kinesio tape”, used by many top athletes (for no actual demonstrable benefit)
The TREAD study on physical activity for depression
2013 Cochrane Review on exercise for depression - a very small effect
2021 meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials of exercise for depression symptoms (in people without clinical depression)
Survey on the replication crisis in sports & exercise science
Attempt to replicate four sports & exercise science studies
The Sports Science Replication Center, who ran the above replication attempt
The Studies Show is produced by Julian Mayers at Yada Yada Productions.