Getting accurate information about working out and staying fit is no simple task. These days, there’s as much misinformation as there is fact. Everyone, it seems, has a tip or sure-fire strategy for shedding pounds or building bigger abs in two weeks. Here are five common myths of exercise and fitness:
No pain, no gain. “Many of us have the impression that you can’t get results without suffering and that you’ll be in better shape if you just ‘tough it out’ and get through the pain,” says Lori Benson, M.A., vice present of Healthy Lifestyles for the YMCA of Greater New York. “The truth is, exercise does not have to be painful to be effective.” Those who build strength and endurance gradually suffer fewer injuries and develop better exercise habits.
Exercise is an efficient way to lose weight. Actually, “exercise is a terribly inefficient way to lose weight,” notes Michael Applebaum, MD, JD, FCLM. Consider: The soda or muffin you consume in 5 minutes may require 90 minutes or more to burn off. While it’s wise to exercise, reducing your calorie intake is an essential part of slimming down.
Machines ensure that you’re working out correctly. Unfortunately, many people don’t adjust machines correctly or they use incorrect posture and techniques when lifting or running on a treadmill. This includes everything from leaning on rails to letting weights drop too quickly. The net effect is diminished results or injury. Ask the gym staff or a personal trainer to help you learn proper technique.
More expensive equipment will provide a better workout. There’s no shortage of ads trumpeting new fitness gadgets as well as muscle-building and weight-loss schemes. “While many of these products promise to work miracles, there is no quick fix when it comes to fitness and overall health,” Benson says. “You don’t need fancy, expensive equipment to burn calories, tone up and get in shape. All you really need is the will and commitment to get moving and incorporate some type of physical activity most days of the week.”
It’s possible to build muscle mass while dieting. It’s a simple fact: muscle weighs more than fat. To add muscle to the body it’s necessary to gain weight but engage in regular exercise. If you want to lose weight expect your muscle mass to decrease. A good starting point for understanding optimal weight is the body mass index (BMI) or a newer measure called body volume index (BVI).