Get the Skinny on 7 Common Exercise Myths

Common Exercise Myths

Common Exercise Myths

The road to fitness is paved with good intentions, but unhealthy misconceptions about exercise can block your progress if you let them get in your way. To get the most out of your workout, and to protect yourself from injury in the process, it pays to know which pearls of fitness wisdom are fact, and which are fiction. Here are seven common exercise myths, debunked.

Fat Burning Myth: Spot-treating abs, buttocks, or any other fatty part of the body with callisthenic exercise will help burn fat in that area.

Fat Burning Truth: Diet and exercise can help you lose weight, but you don’t get to choose where the weight comes off. Ab crunches will tighten and tone your belly, but they won’t blast belly fat. Glute squeezes will firm your buttock muscles, but they won’t burn adipose tissue off your bottom.

Metabolism Myth: The body continues to burn a high number of calories for several hours after an aerobic workout.

Metabolism Truth: Working out aerobically is one of the most effective ways to burn calories, but the high-intensity caloric burn you experience during aerobic activity essentially stops when you stop exercising. Although you may continue to burn calories at a slightly higher rate for a few hours after doing aerobics, the net amount is not significant.

Stretching Myth: It’s smart to stretch your muscles before exercising.

Stretching Truth: Stretching before exercise is not necessary, and may in fact be detrimental to your workout session. Instead of stretching, warm up your body by walking, jogging, or performing other light cardio exercise. Conclude your workout session with muscle stretches to help cool your body down and maximize range of motion.

Muscle Soreness Myth: A hot bath after exercising prevents muscle soreness.

Muscle Soreness Truth: After working out, your muscles will respond more favorably to a cold splash than a hot bath. This is because lactic acid, a body toxin responsible for muscle soreness, has a harder time penetrating cold, constricted blood vessels than warm, open blood vessels. In addition, some soreness is normal after working out, and cannot be avoided.

Fitness Machine Myth: Using the fitness equipment at the gym automatically guarantees a 100% safe, 100% effective workout.

Fitness Machine Truth: Since most pieces of gym equipment are adjustable for height, weight, resistance, and arm/leg length, you must customize the settings on each machine you use to your physical requirements. Furthermore, you must fully understand how to operate a piece of gym equipment before using it in order to avoid injury. Seek the advice of a trainer before venturing onto a contraption you don’t understand at the gym.

Treadmill Myth: Running on a treadmill is easier on your knees than running on hard ground.

Treadmill Truth: A treadmill is not a shock absorber. Whether you choose to pound the pavement or pound the treadmill, your knees inadvertently take a beating. To minimize knee joint strain, intersperse your running routine with other cardio activities such as walking, biking, swimming, stair climbing, and elliptical training.

No Pain, No Gain Myth: Exercise must hurt in order to be effective.

No Pain, No Gain Truth: Pain is not a normal part of healthy exercise. The pain comes after in the form of muscle soreness. If you feel pain while exercising, stop immediately and re-evaluate what you are doing. On the other hand, it is healthy to experience some mild discomfort while exercising. Mild discomfort can be a sign that you are developing muscle, exerting your heart, burning calories, and getting in shape.

I was really fooling myself that my workout was burning a ton of calories for me all day. But hey, if it gets you in the gym, does it really matter?