Correlation vs. Causation

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Correlation vs. Causation

Two definitions for you to think about real quick.



  1. A mutual relationship or connection between two or more things.
  2. Interdependence of variable quantities.


  1. The action of causing something.
  2. The relationship between cause and effect; causality.


In “scientific studies” unfortunately the two sometimes get confused.  Think about doing a pushup.  When you do a pushup you are using mainly the muscles in the front of your chest and shoulders.  Those muscles are responsible for pushing and when overworked compared to our “pulling” muscles they will cause our shoulders to roll forward, or protract.  Does this mean that doing pushups causes protracted shoulders?  NO!  The two are correlated, but pushups do not cause protracted shoulders.

This article gives another example of this confusion when it comes to our sleep.  Some studies claim that too much sleep can kill us.  The misleading information they don’t discuss is that most people that sleep “too much” are already sick and in bed.  It’s not that sleeping too much causes us to die, but rather there is a correlation due to the fact that the majority of people that sleep extensive amounts are chronically ill to begin with.

There are hundreds of studies being done every day that “prove” things to be causative of ailments or on the other side of the spectrum, medications or supplements that will “cure” medical conditions.  This isn’t to say that ALL research is wrong, but it’s just a little reminder to not believe everything you read/hear and to do some research on the research.  If something sounds too good to be true, or if something is hard to believe, there’s a reason your gut is telling you that.  Listen to it, explore it and then decide if it’s causation or correlation.



By | 2011-05-19T07:00:00+00:00 May 19th, 2011|In The Gym, Movement|4 Comments


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  2. Dominic Willen October 8, 2012 at 10:25 am

    Too much sleep can also cause other health problems like insulin resistance or obesity. Always sleep like 7-8 hours. ;,;;.

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  3. Natalia Mangon November 25, 2012 at 2:56 am

    Too much sleep is also harmful to your health since it can host a number of disease itself. *

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  4. Buddy Gills April 3, 2013 at 9:47 pm

    Sleeping for too long can damage your circadian rhythm. The circadian rhythm is your 24 hour ‘clock’ controlled by a central part of the brain. This clock tells us when we are sleepy by altering the body temperature by a few degrees. When the body temperature is lowered, we feel sleepy. Conversely when it is raised, we feel awake and alert.-

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