Dispel your exercise myths

By Ralph Lauren

Nov 9, 2017: More and more people are realizing the benefits of staying fit and taking out time from their busy schedule to join the health and fitness program. Although people are now much better informed about different workouts and its positive sides, many are still victims of popular exercise misconceptions.

With all the information available about fitness and exercise, it can be hard to separate fact from fiction. While some exercise myths are falling by the wayside, many still exist. Without proper knowledge, you may hinder your exercise progress.

Here we list out some of the most common myths and explain the not-so-common facts based on current exercise research.

Myth # 1: I?ll bun more fat if I exercise longer at a lower intensity

The misconception that low-intensity exercise helps to lose more fat is based on the fact that when you perform exercise at 60% intensity for a longer amount of time, your body burns more fat than carbohydrates. This fact has led to the idea that if you burn more fat during exercise, you will burn more storage fat. In fact, the two are not synonymous.

The most important focus in exercise and weight control is not the percentage of energy coming from fat while doing exercise, but the total energy lost, or amount of calories burned during the activity. For example, the faster you walk or run, the more calories you burn per minute. However, high intensity exercise is difficult to sustain if you are just beginning to exercise, so you may not exercise very long at this level. It is safer, and more practical to start at a lower intensity and work your way up gradually.

When the body burns fat during exercise, it does not necessarily utilise stored body fat. Stored body fat is affected by the long-term balance between energy intake and energy expenditure. With exercise, it does not matter if the activity is high- or low-intensity, if you burn a higher number of calories, you should lose fat in the long run.

Myth # 2: If I take no pain, I gain nothing

Many people believe that one has to work at a very high intensity or for long hours to get results. This kind of thinking keeps many people from starting or even maintaining an exercise program. Pain is your body?s way of telling you something?s wrong.

So, listen to it. Exercise doesn?t have to hurt to be good for you. If it hurts, you?re probably doing something wrong. People new to exercise may feel some muscle soreness, which usually subsides after a few workouts. Make sure that you give your muscle time to adapt, otherwise you?ll be risking injury.

Research shows that even low to moderate intensity routines have valuable health benefits. For example, women who are regularly engaged in brisk walking have reduced the risk of heart disease to the same degree as women who have engaged in vigorous exercise.

You only have to make sure that the exercise is at least moderate-intensity, that is, equivalent to walking at a pace of three to four miles an hour. However, high-intensity exercise does have one advantage: it saves time. It takes less time to burn the same number of calories at higher intensity.

You can jog for 20 minutes or walk for 40-45, the result will be the same. A good recommendation is to do cardiovascular exercise three to five days a week for 20 to 45 minutes per session at 65 to 80% of your maximum heart rate, which is a level where you are working but aren?t gasping for air. Research continues to show that any exercise is better than none. For example, regular walking or gardening for as little as an hour a week has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease. It is, in fact, an illusion to think that more exercise is better. However, too much exercise can lead to injury and illness. In fact, your body doesn?t actually experience muscle growth when you?re exercising. It?s only during your rest periods that your body can respond to the exercise. So, make sure you give yourself enough time to recover from a workout.

Myth # 3: I can spot-reduce areas of body fat with right exercise

This myth has been very resilient over the years. Some people believe that if they exercise one part of the body, it will remove fat from that area. In gyms, usually we find women, who tend to store their fat in their abdomens and hips are on the ab machines and hip machines for hours. But the fact is that you cannot reduce fat from specific parts of your body, such as your thighs, abdomen or hip.

Fat cannot be burned from specific body parts. Fat is stored throughout the body according to its own genetic pattern, and exercise will use fat from different areas and not necessarily the part you are working. Fat cannot be toned up by weight training or other exercises. Stored body fat must be reduced by increasing calorie expenditure through aerobic exercise, for example, and controlling calorie intake. Underlying muscle can be strengthened and toned. Although, this is beneficial to overall physical fitness, it will have no direct effect on fat.

Abdominal and hip exercises can strengthen and tone the muscle. But those muscle are underneath the ?subcutaneous? layer of fat that gives the appearance of flab. By losing weight you can get rid of excess fat, and where you lose the weight depends on your genes. Losing weight around the waist is easier than losing it at the hips. So the best way to reduce body fat is with a consistent routine of cardiovascular exercise, strength training and stretching.

Myth # 4: Strength training will be too muscular

Many women are afraid that strength training, that is, lifting weights will make them bulky. They think strength training is only for men. Women have less bone and muscle than men do, so they need to take care of them. This is also the reason why women are at greater risk of osteoporosis than men are. Lost muscle put women at greater risk of disability as they age. But don?t worry about looking like a body-builder.

Women don?t have enough testosterone hormones to create big, bulky muscle. In fact, incorporating strength training twice a week into your exercise program will help protect you from injury, tone your muscle, help prevent osteoporosis and burn excess body fat, even when you are resting. Most exercise experts believe that cardiovascular exercise and strength training are both valuable for maintaining a healthy weight. Strength training helps maintain muscle mass and decrease body fat percentage.

Myth # 5: If I stop working out, muscle will turn into fat

Many people believe that if they stop exercising, their muscle will turn into fat. Muscle and fat are two distinct tissues, however, and never can be converted from one to the other. If you stop exercising, muscle tissue will shrink, and you may feel flabbier. Also, when muscles get smaller, they do not need as many calories, so your metabolism slows. With a slower metabolism, if you eat the same amount of calories, you may gain body fat.

Myth # 6: I?ve not started doing exercise when I was young, now it?s too late

Some people think they?re too old to start an exercise program. They tend to think that it is too late for them to start an exercise routine because they didn?t work out when they were younger. They think it?s unsafe because they have heart disease or diabetes or because they?re too out of shape to start. Studies have shown that it is never too late to start working out?you can reap benefits at any age.

According to a study, some frail nursing home residents, whose ages ranged from 72 to 98, were made to do strength training for 10 weeks, which improved their muscle strength, ability to climb stairs and walking speed. Same will be the case with people who say they can?t exercise because they have arthritis. Again, studies have proved that exercise reduces pain and increases range of motion, strength and mobility among patients of arthritis.

As we age, exercise can help reduce the risk of bone and muscle diseases and help enhance daily functionality. That doesn?t mean that anyone can plunge into a bout of vigorous exercise, regardless of health history. In a study, ordinarily inactive people?especially men who had high cholesterol or angina or were smokers or obese?were ten times more likely to have a heart attack within an hour of exerting themselves (usually by jogging or heavy lifting) than at other times. Regardless of age and medical history, consult a doctor before starting any exercise program.

Myth # 7: Exercise burns lots of calories

People have the mistaken idea that exercise is a fabulous way to lose weight. Exercising doesn?t burn the same amount of calories as walking or running a mile does?they burn about 100 calories. Sitting still for the same time burns about 50 or 60 calories. So people get discouraged at their slow rate of weight loss.

Another misconception: You keep burning considerably more calories for a long time after you stop exercising. Calorie expenditure is elevated for the first minute or two, but by five or six minutes, the extra expenditure is quite small, and by 40 minutes post-exercise, it?s back to where you?ve started. That doesn?t mean dieters should give up on exercise. The more you exercise, the more fit you?ll get. That means you?ll burn more calories because you can walk briskly or run for five miles instead of one. So instead of burning 100 calories, you burn 500 (that?s 250 more than if you had stayed on the couch). What?s more, the better-conditioned you are, the more fat you burn for energy because your muscles adapt to using an enzyme that oxidises fat. People who are less trained burn more carbohydrates instead.

Dieters who exercise also lose less lean body mass?that is., less muscle?than dieters who just cut calories. Physical activity can help with the toughest problem: keeping weight off. Studies show that after people lose weight, the best predictor of maintaining the weight loss is whether they exercise regularly.

Myth # 8: If I don?t lose weight, then why should I exercise

What gets most people off the couch and into their exercising shoes? It?s the unwanted flab that motivates most of us. But it shouldn?t. As I have explained earlier, exercise burns less calories than walking and jogging. Since many people don?t see immediate weight loss from exercise, they get discouraged. Stop and see the long list of benefits of exercising. It improves the ability of insulin to enter cells, so it lowers the risk of diabetes. It also lowers the risk of heart disease by improving blood clotting mechanisms, lowering triglycerides, and raising HDL (?good?) cholesterol.

Exercise alters not only your risk of disease, but your quality of life. According to studies, exercise improve sleep in people with modest sleep dysfunction, that is, people who take a long time to fall asleep or who wake up frequently at night. The psychological benefits of exercise are frequently overlooked?exercise has consistently been shown to relieve both depression and anxiety

Myth # 9: Weight gain is inevitable as I age

Most people tend to get fatter as they get older?but they don?t have to. This is due to reduced physical activity levels and lower metabolic rate caused by a loss of lean body mass (muscle). The lifelong loss of lean body mass reduces our basal metabolic rate as we age. It?s a very subtle change that begins between ages 20 and 30. The percentage of body fat gradually increases, and it produces an everdecreasing calorie requirement. That?s because fat cells burn fewer calories than muscle cells. And a lower metabolic rate means that unless you eat less, you?ll gain weight over the decades. But with exercise you can take care of both?middle-age fatness and muscle loss. Any activity makes you burn more calories (so you?re less likely to wind up with an excess). And strength training can offset the loss of muscle mass.

Studies point out that starting at age 40 in women and at 60 in men, we lose 6-8% of our muscle per decade. However, after only two months of strength training, women recover a decade of loss and men recover two decades. That?s with three weekly sessions of 40 minutes each, including warm-up, rest periods, and stretching. The time spent doing exercises that increase muscle mass is only about five minutes a session. Not a bad return on your time!

Myth # 10: I can?t exercise regularly, why bother?

It takes ten to 12 weeks of regular exercise to improve your performance on a treadmill (a measure of your oxygen capacity) and become fit. But your health can improve after that first brisk walk or run. For example, take a 50-year-old man who is somewhat overweight and has moderately elevated blood sugar or blood pressure. A single bout of exercise of moderate intensity?like 30 to 40 minutes of brisk walking?will lower those numbers. People should try to at least do 30 minutes of moderate activity on most days of the week, preferably all days. But if you can?t, don?t let that stop you from taking even a single walk. Every bout has benefits.

Myth # 11: Going to a gym is the best way to get fit

Not necessarily. Research has shown that some people find it easier to stick to a home-based fitness program. In spite of all the hype on trendy exercise programs and facilities, the best program for you is the one you will participate in consistently.

Myth # 12: I can eat anything I want as long as I exercise

Wish it were true. Sadly, that?s not the case. Exercise and a poor diet are definitely far better than no exercise and a poor diet. But the best combination for health is eating a well-balance, healthy diet and doing regular exercise. You can reap more benefits from your exercise sessions by fueling your body with high quality food and you will definitely feel better overall.


Opinions expressed by ThinkNaturalToday contributors are their own. None of the facts and figures mentioned in the story have been created by ThinkNaturalToday. ThinkNaturalToday is not responsible for any factual errors.

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