Examining Well-Known Health and Fitness Myths

People like to think they have all the answers when it comes to magic secrets of weight loss, and so they put it out for whomever to grab a hold onto. But there are many myths when it comes to exercise and fitness. Below, we examine some of the most common ones, as advised by experts:

Doing Crunches or Using an Ab Machine Will Get Rid of Belly Fat

Experts agree that although ab exercises can strengthen and tone your midsection, they do nothing by themselves to decrease body fat. “You can’t pick and choose areas where you’d like to burn fat,” says Phil Tyne, Director of the fitness center at the Baylor Tom Landry Health & Wellness Center in Dallas. To burn fat, you need a fitness routine that includes cardiovascular and strength-training elements. This will decrease your overall body fat, which includes belly fat.

WebMD recommends that to lose fat around your midsection, instead of focusing on ab work, do exercises that work multiple muscle groups at one time, and of course, pay attention to your diet. Tom Holland, Exercise Physiologist and author of Beat the Gym says, “Abs are made in the kitchen, not by crunches.” Holland also cautions not to work your abs every day because, like every other muscle group, they need time to rest and recover. “Training a muscle causes the muscle to break down,” he says. “And it is during rest that it is allowed to repair and rebuild itself.”

You Have to Work Up a Sweat to Burn Calories

In fact, you can burn a lot of calories without breaking a sweat. Sweat has nothing to do with intensity. It is just the body’s way of cooling itself. Liz Neporent, a health and fitness expert and national spokesperson for the American Council on Exercise, says that the idea that if you don’t sweat, you’re not working hard enough is “just an illusion.” She says, “You will initially lose more weight when you sweat more, but as soon as you drink something, you replace the water weight.”

You Have to Work Up a Sweat to Remove Toxins

Many people believe that sweating is also a good way to detoxify your body. In fact, only about one percent of the total amount of toxins in the body are released through perspiration, according to Jari Love, a certified personal trainer and creator of the Get RIPPED! Workout. “[T]he main organs responsible for excreting waste are actually the gastrointestinal tract – the liver, kidneys, immune systems and lungs.” Working up a sweat is healthy for your body, but does very little to actually detoxify your system.

If You Aren’t Sore After a Workout, You Aren’t Working Hard Enough

Fitness and health experts agree that the “no pain, no gain” adage could be one of the most dangerous fitness myths out there. “A fitness activity should not hurt while you are doing it, and if it does, then either you are doing it wrong, or you already have an injury,” says Todd Schlifstein, a clinical instructor at New York University Medical Center’s Rusk Institute.

Soreness results from inflammation and the chemical response to inflammation. If you are sore the day after exercising a muscle group, it means you should take your workout in that area down a notch. Many athletes don’t feel pain because they know how to expend just the right amount of energy for their body. Gauging your progress by your pain threshold is not accurate because you don’t have to have soreness to gain muscle size or strength.

If a Woman Lifts Heavy Weights, She Will Bulk Up

Many women believe the best way to work out is to do many reps with light weights to avoid looking like a professional weight lifter. In fact, most women lack the hormones or the muscle mass necessary to bulk up without supplements or more dangerous substances.

Liz Neporent recommends lifting increasingly heavy weights until your muscles are fatigued after eight to 15 reps. It is important to work up to heavier weights gradually, and to not hesitate to ask someone to spot you. Form is crucial with heavier weights to avoid injury, but there’s no reason to worry about looking like Ms. Olympia.

There are many misperceptions about what works and what does not when it comes to losing weight, eating healthy and staying fit. It is important to do your research rather than rely on what you have always heard.

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