Exercise Myths Explained
Between social media, bloggers, health magazines and self-proclaimed fitness experts, there is a lot of information trending about exercise. For instance, a fitness boutique may say their routines are the most efficient form of exercise available in the area, or that working out requires the best (and often most expensive) specialty exercise clothes. One of the most common claims you may have heard is, “If I exercise enough, I can eat whatever I want.” You may wonder what to believe.
Several current exercise tips are inaccurate and can easily be misunderstood—possibly causing the opposite of what they’re promising. Knowing the truths behind these myths can help you work out smarter and ask the right questions about other exercise claims in the future.
I can exercise off a bad diet.
We often overestimate how many calories we burn during exercise and underestimate how many calories we consume—undermining our efforts to balance our daily calorie goals.
Eating healthy gives us the fuel we need to hit our exercise peaks and feel good while we are working out. It can be much easier and more effective to focus on healthier eating rather than calorie counting. Eating well, plus regular exercise, is a much easier way to reach and maintain a healthy body weight.
You can focus on losing fat in certain areas.
There is no scientific evidence supporting the idea that we can spot reduce or target fat loss in certain areas of our bodies. While you can build muscle in targeted areas, that doesn’t usually translate to fat loss in those areas, as well.
Strength training will make you appear bulked up and toned.
Lifting weights will increase the amount of lean body mass you have, which will help you burn more calories throughout the day. Simply put, it takes more energy for your body to maintain muscles than to maintain fat. Strength training will make you stronger, but that doesn’t mean it’ll make you bigger. The big, toned, muscular bodies you see on body builders come from special diets plus intense strength-training regimens.
You should exercise every day.
It’s certainly not bad to exercise daily, but it’s good to be mindful of the intensity of your workouts. As a general goal, you want to aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day, and roughly 300 minutes a week. If you do a high-intensity interval training (or HIIT) workout one day, your muscles might be sore for up to 36 hours later! If this, or another form of high-impact exercise, is your workout of choice, simply consider light exercise the next day or day after. This will help you flush out soreness and give your muscles a chance to recover. Too much high-intensity training can result in injuries.
Crunches are great for your abs.
While it’s true crunches help build muscle in your ab area, they often require an already strong core muscle group to be effective. Your hips, lower back muscles, obliques and abdominal stabilizers are all active during ab crunches. Many people end up injuring their lower back during crunches because they’re so focused on activating their abs that they forget to properly balance their body during each crunch. This typically results in your back muscles overcompensating to regain balance. Many professionals recommend doing reverse crunches to avoid straining your back muscles.
Early morning workouts are the best time to exercise.
There is no right or wrong time to exercise—the best time is whenever works best for your lifestyle and your body! If you aren’t a morning person, trying to wake up at 4:30 a.m. to workout will eventually seem like a chore and make you less likely to continue working out entirely. The key is to plan your workouts ahead of time so nothing else gets in your way.
Apps and exercise machines accurately track calories burned during workouts.
While some machines and apps may be more accurate than others, none are 100 percent accurate. Typically, these counters are just rough guides giving estimations based on your speed and level of resistance. More accurate devices, like wearable fitness trackers, will also track your heart rate and store relevant metrics like your age, height and weight. The bottom line is that nothing is 100 percent accurate, but some sources are more accurate than others. Wearable fitness devices are a great way to track your efforts and provide you with measurable stats you can use to compare with other exercises you try!
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*This article is for informational purposes only, and is not meant as medical advice. If you’re new to exercise, be sure to check with your doctor first and discuss any fitness goals or restrictions they might have for you