One of the letters to "Ask Miles" was from a reader whose friend is always telling her that running is going to destroy her knees and that his doctor said so.
I loved the response from "Miles."
In a game of your-word-against-someone's-physician, the M.D. is always going to win. So raise the stakes. See his "my doc," and raise him a "peer-reviewed, long-term research and epidemiological study."
He then suggests a couple of studies that indicate distance runners actually have healthier knees than the population at large.
The friend's doctor has some measure of authority when speaking on medical topics, so "Miles" is right about needing to find sources that are even more authoritative if the reader wants to win the argument.
(I'm the second runner, with the navy blue jacket and the red cap!)
Let's try out my favorite test, the EAR check (Expertise, Accuracy, and Reliability), on the studies he suggests.
Expertise: While the friend's doctor knows a lot about the human body, he may be a GP rather than an orthopedic specialist. A peer-reviewed study of the long-term effects of running on knees has likely been conducted (and reviewed) by doctors who have specialized in this particular area of medicine.
Accuracy: Currency is important here. These sources are recent and have not been superseded by later discoveries. The peer-review process helps to ensure that the facts are correct and that there are no glaring omissions or biases at play.
Reliability: These sources are well-documented. The references lists show previous research that has been conducted on the topic and sets these new studies in context. "Miles" has also followed good standard practice here and has suggested two different studies that independently came to the same conclusion.
I think the reader has a good shot at winning the debate with her friend. Hmm, maybe I should send copies of these studies to my well-meaning but worried mom...! =)
P.S. If you're interested in running but find it too intimidating, why not give the super-popular Couch to 5k program a try? With the blessing of your doctor and a decent pair of running shoes, you-- yes, YOU-- could be running a real race just 9 weeks from now!