Fitness and exercise is part of the everyday lifestyle of so many people. However, with so many different ideas on what works and what doesn't it can be confusing to know what are fitness truths and which are not. What is true is that there are many fitness myths that simply won't go away regardless of science proving them to not have any weight.
A word of caution: Not everything that you hear about fitness and exercising is true. A lot are half-truths and myths that have been debunked by science time and again, but still persist in many people’s minds because they have been deeply ingrained into the consciousness.
“I need to stretch before my workout.”
It has become common practice to do stretching exercises as part of warming up. Allegedly, this will lower your risk of getting injured during the workout and also reduce soreness after the routine. However, there is no scientific evidence supporting this belief. In fact, recent studies show that stretching prior to activity might even impair athletes’ sports performance. That being said, you should take the time to warm up with light exercise before moving onto your main workout. What also seems to be beneficial is stretching after a workout session, since this improves flexibility.
“I’ll burn more fat if I do low-intensity exercises.”
The great thing about doing low-intensity exercises is that you can easily sustain them for a long period of time, since they put less stress on the joints. However, the truth is that the more intense your workout is, the higher amount of calories you burn. But this does not mean that you should always aim for high intensity workouts only. Your fitness decisions should be based on your goals, fitness level, and overall health status.
“Strength training will only make me bulky.”
There is a general fear, for women especially, that strength training will only result in a bulky body and weight gain. But actually you need to lift weights for about three to five hours each day in order to bulk up. Not strength training can cause you to lose four to six pounds of muscle tissue every ten years, which in turn can cause fat weight to increase. On the other hand, strength training twice a week can help increase lean muscle mass, decrease body fat, and burn calories more efficiently.
“Doing crunches can remove my belly fat.”
You cannot choose the areas where you burn fat, since exercising is a whole body process. You can burn your love handles and the rest of your body fat by creating a workout that focuses on both cardiovascular and strength training exercises.
“I can still lose lots of calories hours after doing aerobic workouts.”
Because aerobic workouts increase your heart rate and metabolism, you will still be able to burn up to 20 calories for the rest of the day - a relatively marginal amount that does not really make a big difference in your total calorie burn.
“The longer I exercise, the better.”
Getting in shape does not mean spending countless hours in the gym every day. In fact, 20 to 30 minutes of exercise per day is already enough. What you need to focus on is not the duration of your exercise but its intensity, since high intensity workouts or interval training can be more effective than exercising for hours on end. Overdoing it can lead to burnout and the breakdown of your muscle tissues, so your intensity level should always match your fitness level.
“No pain (and sweat), no gain.”
While you should always challenge yourself and push your endurance, pain is not a part of working out. Muscle soreness is normal for people who are just starting out, but you should feel this less and less as you progress in your routine. Usually, muscle pain signals an injury, and you should stop exercising if you feel that it's a struggle to continue any longer. As for sweating, it is simply your body’s way of cooling down.
“Drinking water can help me lose weight.”
Water has often been lauded to have many health benefits, weight loss included. However, there is a lack of evidence regarding its effect on weight loss, since there are no conclusive studies proving that drinking water makes you less hungry. You should still drink water before, during, and after workouts in order to replace the water that you have lost during your exercise exertions.
“Working out will make me lose weight fast.”
Losing weight is not as simple as burning calories while you exercise. It takes time, and there is no natural way to lose weight overnight. Remember that losing weight is more of a holistic process, so you need to also look at your diet and nutrition level, not just the frequency of your exercise.
What is important is that you have a fitness plan and some set goals. If you need help with your fitness strategy, feel free to drop us a line.
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