When it comes to fitness, can you tell the difference between fact and fiction? Misinformation abounds, and research is continually disproving it. Some myths, like "no pain, no gain," are fading away, but there are plenty more that persist. It’s important to know when information is no longer valid, so that we don’t, for example, waste valuable time performing ill-advised exercise movements. I’ve discussed myths in a previous column, but here come a few more, along with one that bears repeating.
Myth: You can work off isolated areas of fat.
Yes, I have talked about this before, but it’s worth mentioning again, since it’s a frequent offender. You cannot target a particular body area expecting to work off the body fat located there. You need to do total body cardio and strength exercises and watch what you eat. Only then can you begin to lose that fat. You cannot predict the area in which you will lose fat; your genetics have something to say about that.
Myth: If you stop exercising, your muscles will turn into fat.
Fat and muscle are different entities. One cannot magically change into the other. When you stop exercising and lead a more sedentary lifestyle, you will eventually experience muscle atrophy. Body fat gain comes into play if you continue to eat the way you did before you stopped exercising and lost your muscle mass.
Myth: Feeling sore indicates a great workout.
Soreness is not the way to gauge how good your workout was. Some soreness can be expected when you first begin a program or suddenly increase the intensity, but if you are sore after every workout, you are most likely overdoing the exercises or not giving your body ample time to recover.
Myth: Sweat loss means weight loss.
The weight you lose is only temporary, and it is mostly a loss of water, not fat. It is quickly replaced when you drink water.
Myth: Running is bad for your knees.
Research has shown that if you do not have a predisposition to knee issues, running can actually be beneficial for strengthening muscles surrounding the knee and can increase bone density. However, it is a good idea to perform strength exercises several times a week. Squats and pushups are excellent for helping to improve performance and decrease injuries.
Check with your doctor before starting a new exercise program. Sally Anderson is happy to hear from readers but can’t respond to individual inquiries. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.