5 Exercise Myths Busted

Source: sxc.hu Photo: LotusHead
Source: sxc.hu Photo: LotusHead

With the new year coming up, it is little surprise that many are starting to think about what they can do to lose a little weight in 2010 (after gaining a little through the holidays, of course). Unfortunately, there are exercise myths that can actually hinder your efforts to live a healthier lifestyle. Before you work out an exercise program, get the facts about exercise. About.com offers some exercise myth-busting with the help of some health professionals at Baylor University. Here are five of the exercise myths that you should know about before beginning an exercise program:

Exercise Myth #1: You must stretch before you exercise

We often hear that it is important to stretch before exercise. However, this is actually a myth. In truth, some studies suggest that pre-exercise stretching can actually increase the changes of your injury, since stretch destabilizes your muscle fibers. Some exercises, such as running, can benefit from warm up and stretching. But with others, like weight lifting, it is better to exercise, and then stretch your muscles after you are done.

Exercise Myth #2: Exercise will convert fat into muscle

It’s a nice thought: Exercise will make your fat change into desirable muscle. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Exercise can burn off fat, and it can help you build lean muscle, but there is no straight conversion. It’s more of a replacement. This means that it is necessary to exercise in such a way that will help you burn off the fat, and then continue exercise so that you are building muscle instead.

Exercise Myth #3: Stomach crunches get rid of belly fat

It would be nice to think that you can target fat in certain areas of your body. Sadly, though, you can’t. You can’t decide where the fat burns off. Many people have strong abs, but still have a layer of fat overlaying those muscles. Where fat collects in your body has very little to do with what regions you are exercising. Instead, it is a good idea to include aerobic/cardiovascular exercises with strength training. This will help you burn off fat, reducing your overall body fat, while helping you build some lean muscle.

Exercise Myth #4: If you aren’t sweating, you aren’t getting a good workout

Many people believe that they have to work up a sweat in order to burn calories. This just isn’t true. Sweat is about cooling down your body. It isn’t actually a measure of how much you are exerting yourself. So don’t overdo it just to break a sweat. Instead, focus on the intensity you feel, and concentrate on what you are doing. Some activities, such as lifting weights, swimming and walking can help you burn calories and/or build lean muscle mass without a great deal of sweating.

Exercise Myth #5: As long as you restrict calories, you don’t need as much exercise

Exercise is more than just trying to lose weight. Restricting calories just to avoid exercise can actually slow your metabolism, as well as deprive you of the benefits that exercise offers the body. Exercise strengthens various systems in your body, including the immune system. Additionally, exercise helps you to keep your metabolism functioning at a higher rate, even when you aren’t exercising. However, you shouldn’t use that as an excuse to pig out. Cutting a couple hundred calories from your diet each day, and paying attention to portion size can help you consume the proper amount of calories each day so that you adequately fuel your body while losing or maintaining your weight. Also, choosing healthier calories, such as those found in fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and dairy and meat products consumed in moderation, can aid in your overall health.

In the end, it’s about increasing your health. Proper exercise can help you sleep better and enjoy relaxation more, as well as help you change your life in a way that will help you feel happier in general. And, of course, better health often leads to better finances, since health problems are expensive.

15 Responses to 5 Exercise Myths Busted

  1. Thanks for sharing! I always thought crunches were the sole way to make my tummy flat…I was sorely mistaken. Core exercises helped me out immensely in toning my mid section. Definitely paired with cardio/weight training I saw a huge difference.

  2. Great article with good info for those starting a new fitness or weight-loss program.

    May I add one thing? Although it isn’t recommended that you stretch cold muscles before weight-lifting, it is recommended that you warm up your muscles with about ten minutes of aerobic activity. This increases the blood flow to the muscles that you’re going to be stressing, which can help prevent injury. Some health professionals have also suggested that if you finish the workout with some light aerobic activity, it will help muscles recover more quickly so that there’s less stiffness and pain the day after.

    Thanks!

    Laurie

  3. Thanks for adding that, Laurie! You make a good point. Warming up is different from stretching. @MySensei: Core exercises can help build muscle, and strengthen you to better support yourself down the road. It is always a good thing to have lean muscle as opposed to fat.

  4. Thank you for this wonderful information. Keeping fit and healthy, by exercising frequently and eating smaller, nourishing meals several times a day – is a great way to have good health for many, many years.

  5. Wow, great post.
    Seems you have written your heart out.
    I did not know about a lot of things above though i think of myself as an expert.
    Thanks for sharing.

  6. Some great facts there. I have never done stretching before exercise. If I am going for a run I just take it easy for the first few minutes until my muscles are warmed up. I think there can be more chance of pulling a muscles if you overdo the warmup!

  7. “Exercise is more than just trying to lose weight.”
    I must agree that the feeling after the exercise is great no matter if you burned many calories or not. If you eat the right food afterwords you cannot go wrong.

  8. Stomach crunches to get rid of belly fat has got to be one of the leading exercise myths out especially for those trying to lose belly fat! thanks for sharing

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