Fitness Myths Dispelled : Surprising Scientific Truths About Exercise

 In Exercises, Fitness, Healthy Living

Fitness Myths Dispelled : Surprising Scientific Truths About Exercise

I love learning more about why our bodies work the way they do. I want to continue to be a reliable source of information for both my clients and other people I know. I am continually researching different exercises, weight loss plans, the latest and greatest food trends, and different techniques. My goal is for you to look to me with confidence when you have questions about improving your health and fitness level.

With that goal I recently came across a book written by a Renaissance man of sports. Alex Hutchinson is a blogger, an author, a former Canadian national-team distance runner, and has been a senior editor at Canadian Running magazine. Additionally, he is a postdoctoral physicist and contributing editor at Popular Mechanics. This guy knows his stuff.

Which Comes First, Cardio or Weights?
His book Which Comes First, Cardio or Weights?: Fitness Myths, Training Truths, and Other Surprising Discoveries from the Science of Exercise provides some really fantastic, scientifically-backed information. This book has been a great resource for me and provides answers to the most commonly asked questions in fitness and training.

So, I’ve listed some of the most common beliefs I’ve been asked about and am happy to present the facts about these below.

Common belief: If I exercise, I can eat whatever I want.
Myth: Working out doesn’t mean that you can eat empty calories and expect to be healthy just because you exercise. Exercise helps your body stay strong, but it will not make up for putting bad food in your mouth. If you only eat burgers and pizza and only drink soda pop, you can’t expect your health to be optimal and you will pay for it in the long run. What you eat is far more important than how much you eat.

Common belief: Women need to work out differently than men.
Myth and Truth: Humans all have the same physiology. Men and women may have different hormones running through them, but the basic muscle structures are the same. That being said, women may need to slightly alter how they do some exercises in order to achieve the desired results. For example, testosterone helps men build bulk much more quickly and women have to work harder. However, with the right trainer and direction, any woman can do what any man can do.

Common belief: I can skip stretching before I exercise.
Truth: Stretching before workouts can destabilize and weaken muscles. The decrease in strength and tension can increase the chance of injury. To prep for your workout, go for a brisk walk beforehand or start out with lower weights then build up. Definitely take the time after your workout to stretch to prevent your muscles from cramping.

Common belief: If I do only aerobic exercise and no weight training, my body will still continue to burn fat for hours afterward.
Myth: Aerobic exercise is great for getting your heart rate up, but to continue burning calories, you want to increase muscle mass. Muscle needs more calories than fat in order to keep it strong and healthy. The more muscle your body has, the more calories it will need.

Common belief: I want to reduce my belly fat. If I do a ton of crunches and/or focused ab exercises, I will get a great flat belly
Myth: Focused workouts are great when you use them as part of your routine. But unless you decrease your overall body fat, you won’t be able to achieve the rock hard abs you want.

Common belief: Swimming is a great exercise to help me lose weight.
Myth: Swimming is fantastic if your goal is to increase your lung capacity and endurance or to burn off excess tension. But, because you are held up by the water, you aren’t working yourself as hard as you could on dry land. If you need a low impact exercise, swimming is great, but don’t expect miracle results. Another great low-impact option is bicycling because you will be working several different muscle groups without the pounding your body endures while running.

Common belief: Drinking a lot of water will help me drop pounds more quickly.
Myth: While water may help you feel full and eat less at a particular meal, many of the claims of water being the miracle drink are not scientifically backed. Water is, of course, a much better choice than a glass of any sugary drink, but it’s not a miracle diet drink. It is always important to stay adequately hydrated, but your weight loss plan will need to include diet changes and exercise.

Common belief: I don’t need to wear a sports bra. My regular bra provides great support.
Myth: Any high-impact activity such as aerobics or jogging puts stress on the ligaments that keep your breasts firm. Any time you repeatedly stress connective tissue for long periods of time, you loosen them. Sports bras help reduce the strain on your Cooper’s ligaments and keep your breasts firm and perky.

Common belief: Holding weights during exercise will cause more damage than good.
Truth and Myth: Risk really depends on the amount of weight you carry. If you keep the weight at less than 1350 grams (3 pounds), you greatly reduce the risk of injury. The cautions are due to the fact that undue stress can be put on the arm muscles, shoulder muscles, wrist joints and elbow joints if you use heavier weights.

Common belief: If I engage in sexual activity before a big game, marathon, or competition my performance will suffer.
Myth: It was a long-standing belief that sex before any athletic event could decrease performance ability. However, the relaxation we all experience after sexual activity can help reduce any anxiety prior to an important event. Being able to keep your focus on your goal will help improve, rather than impede, your performance.

I hope this information helped clear up any preconceptions you may have had. If you have anything further that you aren’t sure about, let me know in your comments or contact me directly. In the meantime I’ll continue to provide valuable health and fitness advice here on my blog, which will help you in your pursuit of a healthy enviable body.


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