Fitness facts & fallacies
“If you don’t exercise regularly, muscle turns to fat.” FALSE!
Muscle is muscle and fat is fat–you can’t turn one into the other. Over time, under exercised muscles will shrink and lose tone, causing a flabby appearance. And if you were formerly active and are still eating more calories than you’re expending, you’ll store the excess as additional fat. But while your muscles may be smaller, they’re still muscle, not fat.
“Lifting weights bulks you up.” FALSE!
This is a common fear among women, but it’s unfounded. Women do have some testosterone, but not to the extent that men do. So getting those big bulky muscles isn’t something that’s going to happen to us!
“Doing crunches or working on an “ab machine” will get rid of stomach fat”. FALSE!
Experts say that while ab-crunching devices & doing crunches might help strengthen the muscles around your midsection and improve your posture, being able to “see” your abdominal muscles has to do with your overall percentage of body fat. If you don’t lose the stomach fat, you won’t see the ab muscles.
You can’t pick and choose areas where you’d like to burn fat, so crunches aren’t going to target weight loss in that area.
Experts say that in order to burn fat, you should create a workout that includes both cardiovascular and strength-training elements. This will decrease your overall body fat content, including the area around your midsection”.
“Swimming is a great weight loss activity.” FALSE!
While swimming is great for increasing lung capacity, toning muscles, and even helping to burn off excess tension, experts says the surprising truth is that unless you are swimming for hours a day, it may not help you lose much weight.
They say that because the buoyancy of the water is supporting your body, you’re not working as hard as it would if, say, you were moving on your own steam like you do when you run”.
Further, they say, it’s not uncommon to feel ravenous when you come out of the water. So, it may actually cause you to eat more than you normally would, so it can make it harder to stay with an eating plan.
“Cardio burns more calories than strength training.” FALSE!
Contrary to long-held belief, strength training is—as new studies have shown—superior to steady-paced cardio in calorie burning. In one University of Southern Maine study, participants blasted as many calories doing 30 minutes of weight training as they did running at a six-minute-per-mile pace for the same amount of time.
The other huge benefit of weight training? It boosts your metabolism after your workout—and builds muscle that will further increase your fat-burning potential in the long run. “If you do steady-state cardio, when you leave the gym, that’s it for your calorie burn,” says David Jack, general manager of Competitive Athlete Training Zone in Acton, Massachusetts. “But when you do strength work, you’ll continue to burn calories for up to 36 hours.”
Yes, men put on muscle more quickly and develop bigger muscles than women, but most men want to add muscle to their frames. The average woman who weight trains will merely improve her overall muscle tone and look sleeker and firmer.
“Morning is the best time to exercise.” FALSE!
For health benefits, it makes no difference if you exercise in the morning, afternoon, or evening. While studies have suggested a.m. exercisers stick with it longer than those who work out later in the day, not everyone enjoys working out in the morning.
The best time to exercise is the best time for you, if it’s not the best time for you, you’re not going to stick with it … and if you’re not going to do it, you’re not going to get any benefits from it!
“Even a little bit of exercise helps.” TRUE!
Research has shown that “discontinuous” exercise–taking three 10-minute walks during the day instead of one 30-minute walk–is good for you too. Little chunks of physical activity, such as spending 15 minutes tending your flower bed or walking three flights of stairs instead of taking the elevator, all burn calories and help you stay fit.
“A day or two off won’t hurt your routine.” TRUE!
Yes, it’s important to commit to regular exercise. But when they miss a few days too many people give up on their routines instead of simply getting back into the groove. It takes more than a couple of days or even a week to reverse the progress that you’ve made. In fact, you should take a day off between strength-training sessions–your muscles need about 48 hours to rebuild the microscopic tears that occur during weight lifting.
“The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn.” TRUE!
Aerobic exercise is great for strengthening your heart and reducing stress. But to up your body’s metabolism, you need to strength-train. Your muscles are more metabolically active than fat, which means that they burn more calories and can help you lose or maintain your weight. Every pound of muscle burns about 35 to 50 more calories a day compared to a pound of fat. To maintain your muscle mass as you get older, include strength training moves two or three days a week.
“If you’re tired all the time you need to exercise” TRUE!
“I’m too tired” is one of the most common excuses people give for not exercising. Unless you have serious concerns about your fatigue or have a medical condition that causes tiredness, scratch that excuse off your list for good! Exercise actually boosts your energy levels. When you first begin an exercise program, you may feel more tired because you’re not used to it. As your body adjusts, however, you’ll have more energy, even when you’re not exercising.