Myth Busters: Fitness Addition
3 Common Fitness Myths and why they don't Hold True
The internet is an amazing tool... but with all of the conflicting information it provides, it can do crazy things to our heads. When it comes to exercise, we also run into contrasting advice in books and magazines and on TV. We are up against a constant feed of misinformation. To help you sort out fact from fiction, below are a few common fitness myths you have probably heard before and an explanation on why they aren't necessarily true.
1. You can target fat loss in certain areas.
“Burn belly fat fast with these three moves!” Claims like this are simply misleading. While you can certainly target muscle building with weight bearing repetitions, it is not possible for your body to localize fat loss. Fat is stored in form of triglycerides in fat cells. Triglycerides must be broken down into glycerol and free fatty acids in order to travel through the bloodstream and be used as a source of energy. The triglycerides broken down in this process can come from any fat cells in the body, not just the ones located in the areas you are exercising.
Another explanation for why you cannot target fat loss boils down to the simple “calories in, calories out” equation. You lose fat by burning more calories than you take in. The exercises people use to “target fat loss” do not usually burn many calories. For example, it takes about 10 crunches to burn 1 calorie. This means you would have to do about 1,600 crunches to burn 3 Oreo cookies.
2. Exercise is the best way to lose weight.
The importance of regular physical activity cannot be stressed enough. Maintaining strength and stability will help prevent issues like knee problems and back pain. It has also been shown to reduce stress, boost self-confidence, improve sleep and memory, and support the immune system. Exercise is also a component of weight loss, however, it is not as big a piece as many people think. As mentioned above, weight management is dependent on caloric intake and expenditure. It is extremely easy to overeat, often without even being conscious of it, while it can be very difficult to burn those excess calories off with exercise. Allowing yourself to splurge because you had a good workout will usually result in consuming more calories than you burned in that gym session. Shawn M. Talbott, a nutritional biochemist at the University of Utah and an expert on the subject, says, on average, weight loss is attributed to 75% diet and 25% exercise. Be sure not to lose sight of healthy eating while maintaining exercise as a regular part of your routine!
3. Stretching before a workout warms you up and improves your performance.
People often think static stretching before a workout will loosen up their muscles and prevent injury. However, more recent studies have found this to be ineffective and potentially harmful. Rather than doing a quick 3-minute stretch prior to a workout, aim to incorporate flexibility training as a regular part of your weekly routine. You can achieve this by practicing yoga or developing a post-workout or morning stretching sequence.