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Table 1 Strengths and weaknesses of the study designs in physical activity/exercise and health research

From: Physical activity, genes, and lifetime predisposition to chronic disease

Study design Strengths Weaknesses
Observational cohort studies Large sample sizes Unclear cause-and-effect evaluation
Population-based samples
Healthy exerciser bias
Long follow-ups
Experimental mechanistic studies Show in-detail effects of training on specific risk factors Small sample sizes
Effects on true disease outcomes and disease progression unclear
(Randomized) controlled trials Reliable evaluation of cause-and-effect Small sample sizes
Short follow-ups