In today’s world, it’s understandable that most of us have some core, preconceived notions about what to do (and what not to do) when it comes to exercise.
We’ve been told them all our life, after all.
But bear in mind this: Exercise, like technology, has advanced significantly since the concept picked up steam in the 70s with the invention of things like jazzercise and fitness equipment.
Researchers from all over the world have devoted countless hours, and spent countless money, on studying the effects of exercise, its importance and the best way to go about it.
With that in mind, here are some common myths about exercise, and some suggestions about what to do with your time instead.
Nope. There’s no evidence to support that static stretching (stretching while standing still) does much of anything to help you out, let alone stop you from getting sore or hurt.
In fact, several studies have found that not only does it not prevent muscle pain, it can actually worsen performance.
What To Do Instead: Instead of touching your toes, do some dynamic stretching, also known as warming up. A couple jumping jacks, maybe a slow jog in place, something along those lines will do the trick.
For many years, people have believed the whole slow-and-steady thing works better because it targets fat, rather than carbs.
In reality, while it’s true that high-intensity exercise burns more carbs, it also burns more calories overall, meaning more fat, too.
That’s not to say low-intensity exercise doesn’t have its place. It’s great for preventing injuries, overcoming an injury or for beginners. But in the long run, mixing in some high-intensity training will yield better results.
What To Do Instead: Rather than walking for an extended period of time, try 30 minutes of interval training — walk 3 minutes, run 1 and repeat for the first 20 minutes. Then, walk 2 minutes, run 2 minutes for the final 10 minutes. Work your way up to a point where you can run the whole time.
Wait, what? If we all stop for a second and think about this at face value, it’s clearly absurd. The thought is that in order to truly get any benefits, it has to hurt while exercising (which totally doesn’t make any sense).
Let me tell you this: If it hurts during, there’s something wrong. You’re either a) not doing it right, or b) injured. Either way, stop and get some guidance. On the flip side, if you’re a little sore the next day or two, that’s okay and to be expected.
What To Do Instead: Rather than pushing yourself to the point it’s painful, focus on breathing. If you can’t hold a normal conversation while exercising, it’s okay to slow it down.
Yes, cardio is super important. It burns calories and leads to faster metabolisms. But weightlifting is just as important for women as it is for men. Why? Because people with higher muscle-mass burn calories more quickly.
And not to worry, ladies. We have way too much estrogen to lead to excess bulk. Men, in contrast, have testosterone, which is why they do tend to bulk up when they lift heavier weights. (You can expect more toned muscles, though, so that’s pretty sweet).
What to Do Instead: Add a weightlifting regimen into your exercise routine a few days a week. There’s no need to go overboard, just some light weights that help increase muscle mass over time.
No...a thousand times NO. Protein shakes are often loaded with artificial ingredients, sugar, things you can’t pronounce. Like any junk food, they’re bad for you. They’re the lowest-quality food.
What to Do Instead: You’re way better off eating real food, such as a Diet-to-Go meal. If you’re on the breakfast-lunch-dinner plan, for example, get in your workout right before the time you would eat one of your meals. When you’re finished exercising, grub down on it.
For those of us who dread the idea of exercising ourselves to the point it becomes a “sweat-session” this one’s good news. For many years, trainers pitched the idea that the only way to see benefits is to pour on (er, out?) the sweat.
Not so. In fact, sweating is basically just how our bodies cool themselves off. It’s a physiological reaction to high-exertion. And while that’s great occasionally, sweating like that every single day can lead to overdoing it and injury.
What to Do Instead: Work in some low-exertion exercise too. Things like long walks and weightlifting still burn a lot of calories — and doing both is more likely to help you avoid injuries.
Hate to say it, but those countless hours spent pushing your abs in and out may have been a huge waste of time.
Crunches, like any spot-toning, can indeed increase muscle in that area, but they’ll do nothing to reduce the fat on top. The only thing that will do that is eating better and mixing in cardio.
What To Do Instead: Focus on the entire body, rather than just one area. It’s okay to do sit-ups and crunches, but put even more emphasis on working up your cardio and stamina.
Do you know of any other myths? What are they? What are some things you’ve tried instead?
Author: Caitlin Hendee
Diet-to-Go Community Manager
Caitlin is the Diet-to-Go community manager and an avid runner. She is passionate about engaging with others online and maintaining a healthy, active lifestyle. She believes moderation is key, and people will have the most weight loss success if they engage in common-sense healthy eating and fitness.