Busting Health and Fitness Myths: Part I

If you watch TV, listen to the radio or read the newspaper, you are bound to get a taste of the latest fitness advice.  You will hear them when you go to the gym, or when you see commercials (or infomercials) for how to lose weight without exercising and eating the right foods.  Which of these well-known myths are true and which ones are just myths? Here is Part 1 of the 10 most common fitness myths where we will expose the truth behind the myths once and for all.

Exercise Myth 1: Exercising longer at a lower intensity burns more fat than with high intensity exercise

Reality:  While it is important to start out at a lower intensity when you are new to exercise or getting back into it after a long hiatus, staying at that low intensity isn’t necessarily beneficial; your body is an intelligent machine and will eventually get used to the level you start exercising at and you will have to increase the intensity in order to see further results. However, if you find that increasing your speed is too difficult, try increasing the resistance. Add some hills to your treadmill, incline to your elliptical, or try wearing a weighted backpack to increase the difficulty of your workout and see the benefits without initially increasing speed.

Exercise Myth 2: Unless you work out hard and often, exercise is a waste of time

Reality:  This mindset keeps many people from maintaining or even starting an exercise program. Research continues to show that any physical activity is better than none. For example, regular walking or gardening for as little as an hour a week has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease. However, if you can add in even 5 minutes of higher intensity exercises, think walking briskly up and down stairs or fast dancing –get your heart rate up! Every day and with each small improvement, you will reap even more health benefits.

Exercise Myth 3: Yoga is a completely gentle and non-strenuous exercise

Reality:  Yoga is an excellent addition to your exercise program, but some styles can be not only physically but mentally demanding as well. Basic Yoga can be done by most anyone, but more advanced styles can require quite a bit of advance physical conditioning and as with any form of exercise, certified, dedicated instruction is necessary for a safe, effective workout.

Exercise Myth 4: If you exercise hard  and long enough you will always get the desired results

Reality:  As with most things regarding the human body and performance, genetics play an all important role. Studies have shown a wide variation in how differently our bodies respond to identical training programs.  Your individual development of muscular strength, muscular endurance, and raw speed will likely be very different from that of other people you know.   This is why it is important to mix up your exercise routine often since different exercises use your muscles in a different way.

Exercise Myth 5: Always stretch before you workout

The reality: The latest research shows that stretching prior to your workout doesn’t have an effect on reducing injuries particularly static stretching (holding a stretch).  In order to warm up, try 5 to 10 minutes of jogging in place, walking around, knee lifts, or anything that will get your heart rate up and your blood pumping.  It is best to stretch at the end of the workout when your muscles are warm and pliable and ready to stretch.

Do your research before believing any unrealistic myth that you hear, especially if it comes from unaccredited sources.  Ask a fitness professional if you have questions, and to get results safely and effectively.

Make a healthy choice this week!

Contributors: Kim Farmer and Michelle Beachem of Mile High Fitness. Mile High Fitness offers in-home personal training and corporate fitness solutions. Visit www.milehighfitness.com or email inquires@milehighfitness.com    

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