To Believe or Not Believe
Here are some of the most common exercise myths as well as the not-so-common facts. Use these cool facts to help you work out smarter!
Myth #1: If you stop working out, your muscle turns to fat
Muscle and fat are two different types of tissue in the body. Muscle doesn’t turn into fat and fat doesn’t turn into muscle. If someone starts to work out less often and at a lower intensity, he/she will start to lose muscle mass. If they continue to eat the same number of calories per day as when they were exercising, they will also gain weight in the form of fat.
Myth #2: Crunches will flatten your stomach
All muscles are covered by a layer of adipose tissue or fat. The commonly referred to 6-pack or wash-board abs are the result of decreasing this layer of fat. Although crunches may strengthen your abdominals, crunches alone won’t flatten your stomach. It is impossible to target fat loss from a specific part of your body. Similarly, performing arm extensions will not get rid of your underarm jiggle. In other words, resistance exercises will strengthen a specific body part, but they cannot “spot reduce”. The best way to get a flat stomach or toned body parts is to burn calories through an aerobic and resistance exercise program. The more calories you burn, the more fat you lose and the more you’ll see the muscles underneath!
Myth #3: Exercising once a week isn’t worth it
Any exercise is better than no exercise at all. In fact, research shows that any physical activity improves your health and risk for chronic disease irrespective of body weight. However, the more you exercise, the more benefits you’ll reap, decreasing your chances for chronic conditions such as heart disease, and high blood pressure. So if you can’t get in all the work outs you wanted to this week, don’t panic. Just make sure you do your best to meet the daily recommendations the following week.
Myth #4: You are losing the most weight when you work out
Contrary to popular opinion, the majority of calories burned during the day occurs when you are at rest and doing absolutely nothing. Your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) is the energy you expend while resting. It is heavily dependent on how much muscle mass you have. Muscle mass and hence BMR naturally decrease as you age, making it harder for you to eat whatever you want and stay slim. Fortunately, research shows that you can maintain your metabolic rate and maximize weight loss if you combine aerobic exercise with a regular routine of resistance (muscular strength) exercise. Resistance exercise maintains muscle mass.
Myth#5: Women who lift weights bulk up
Women respond differently to weight training than men. While your husband may see his biceps get bigger in response to resistance training, your bicep size is limited even if you lift heavy weights. This difference is the result of men producing more testosterone, a hormone that stimulates muscle growth. Women who take testosterone supplements or steroids and perform heavy resistance training will see bigger gains. Regardless of the growth in muscle size, resistance exercise stimulates bone growth and functional strength. Because women are at greater risk for osteoporosis than men, it could be argued that it is more important for women to perform weight training on a regular basis.
Myth #6: Going to a gym is the best way to get fit
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. Try performing Power Up in 10 exercises or running around the block to meet the exercise recommendations. You will reap fitness benefits and save a few dollars at the same time.
Myth#7: No Pain No Gain!
Remember that any amount of exercise, even low intensity exercise, will lead to valuable health benefits. It is true that in order to reap fitness benefits such as an improvement in muscular strength or aerobic endurance, you must stress the body beyond what it is used to. This is called overload. However, it can be dangerous to ignore your body’s signals. Pushing yourself too hard and too fast can lead to serious injury – not a healthier body. Indeed, many athletes are forced to drop out of competitions because they have exercised at high intensities for long durations without proper recovery. Your body gets stronger only if you allow it to recover.