Everyone knows that exercising is good for you. But the explosion of fitness styles, health programs, and exercise regimes coupled with the prolific world of the internet, there is so much more information on fitness out there, and some of it is doing more harm than good. Here are seven myths about fitness that you may have heard, and why they’re incorrect:
- Losing weight begins and ends with exercise.
Oh, this claim. It could not be more incorrect. According to health and fitness experts across the board, weight loss is more about what you eat and less about your exercise regimen. Which isn’t to say that exercise is useless, it has incredible benefits. It just doesn’t affect your weight loss as much as the As-Seen-On-TV guru may have told you it does. And no exercise regimen is going to take off in a healthy manner without a good, healthy everyday diet behind you.
- How healthy you are is based only on your weight.
Nope! Weight is an easily accessible way to keep track of changes in the body, which is why it became a popular way to measure differences. But your health is determined more by the percentage of fat in your body, how well you eat and how active a lifestyle you lead. If you’re skinny, but your metabolic rate is low, and you eat large amounts of junk food, odds are you’re far less healthy than someone who measures “overweight” but eats well, gets exercise and could be tilting the scale due to muscle mass, which is heavier than fat. Source
- Turning your life around to fitness means making HUGE changes
New Year’s resolutions, anyone? We decide we’re going to change and become our ideal selves TOMORROW, setting up incredibly large and lofty fitness goals. Day one comes and maybe we’re feeling up to the challenge–what is it, 50 push-ups, followed by 50 squats, then a 4km run? And then we beat ourselves up when on day 2 we can barely make ourselves look at our sneakers! It’s hard to change any habits, and habits that are for the better, that require effort and will test our willpower and motivation? All the more so! According to this study by the NCBI, Small steps are everything here. Start with five pushups and five squats. If you aren’t accustomed to running, begin with walks, then power-walking, and introduce running in intervals. This doesn’t only apply to those setting fitness goals for the first time; it especially applies to those that have experienced “fitness glory days” in the past and are trying to get back to that. Be patient with yourself, say kind words to yourself with every accomplishment. Acknowledge that your brain adjusting to a new frame of mind where fitness is a priority is as much a learning curve as the exercise regimes themselves. This perspective, patience and willingness to take it slow will benefit you in the long run (no pun intended) and you’ll reach your fitness goals in a healthier way with a positive frame of mind, where you are your body’s best advocate instead of its taskmaster.
- Women shouldn’t lift weights–they make you look too bulky and muscular
Don’t be turned away from this essential part of any exercise regime by the rumors, as they could not be less true. Yes, women are able to bulk up if they wish, but it takes far more effort than your average daily lifting routine. Lifting weights is actually a very important part of any exercise regime and should not be discounted. The results speak for themselves–far from being bulky, you will look healthy, lean and toned.
- You can choose to lose fat in only targeted areas of your body
If only this were true, right? You have that one spot on your body that you wish was just a little (or a lot) slimmer, and so you focus your exercise on that one spot, and are disappointed with the results. This is known, rather fittingly, as spot reduction. The sad truth is that where our bodies choose to store fat is largely not in our control–whether it be the stomach, thighs, buttocks, face. This is more determined by our age, sex and general physical makeup. And while weight lifting can target specific muscle groups (i.e. crunches for abs, squats for thighs, etc), your body chooses to burn fat from anywhere it pleases. This means that you could do crunches all the livelong day and see your face get narrower, but your stomach stays about the same for a while. But keep at it! Consistent effort will eventually give you the results you’re looking for.
- Only long workouts actually have any effect on weight loss
The effect workouts have on fat burn are more of a quality than quantity measure. Running the treadmill for an hour will burn fat because of just how long you are working, but a high intensity varied workout that takes far less time and can give you better results. The key is in the amount of effort you are putting in. If you want to see better results, ditch that long, steady cardio and aim for a workout that gives variety and ramps up, making sure your body never falls into patterns and is always at work. This also prevents you from feeling bored with your routine and keeps things fun!
- If you don’t feel sore after a workout, you haven’t worked hard enough.
After a workout, it hard to feel like you’ve done the work if you don’t leave feeling that muscle soreness. But you don’t need to feel that after every workout to know that you’re making progress! In a good and varied workout, there will be days when you leave feeling pretty normal, no aches and pains, no muscles yelling at you, and that is okay! Especially as your body gets used to working out regularly, you might feel this less.
Beyond the myths we at HydroChic think it’s so important to remind our the women in our Sisterhood that ultimately you should exercise because it makes you feel good, releases endorphins and will keep you motivated and feeling positive. No matter what our bodies look like, whether we are considered plus size or senior, exercising is about us and that should be your biggest motivator.
So if you are perfectly happy with a long brisk walk or prefer to lift weights, remember that you are doing it for yourself and leave the silly myths to the world wide web of theories 😉