11 Fitness Myths That Are Doing More Harm Than Good

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11 Fitness Myths That Are Doing More Harm Than Good
image 1 – skeeze ; image 2 – tookapic – pixabay.com

Working out is an essential part of daily living. Whether your goal is to build muscle, burn fat or simply improve your mood, a fitness routine will definitely benefit anyone.

Unfortunately, our eagerness to stay fit makes us prone to a lot of misconceptions. A lot of the fitness advice floating around the gym may not be helpful for you or worst, it can do you more harm than good.

Here Are 11 Common Fitness Myths That Need Debunking Right Now

MYTH #1. The best way to lose weight is to exercise.

It is a common belief that burning calories is the best way to shed off some pounds. While exercising is truly important in losing weight, we cannot ignore the fact that changing your eating habits is more important. The reason why this is so is the fact that cutting down the calories from food is easier and faster than sweating it off through workouts. It simply takes less effort for you to choose your food wisely than to increase your caloric expenditure. [1]

MYTH #2. If you want a six pack abs, you need to do crunches and sit-ups.

Sit-ups and crunches only target a small number of muscles involved in your core. Unfortunately, this kind of exercise is not efficient and can lead to a backache or a serious back injury. A better alternative is to try planking. Planking is easier on your back and recruits more muscles on your sides, front, and back compared to the traditional sit-up. [2] Experts also agree that getting abs is not just a matter of performing ab exercises; it is actually a product of strategic muscle workouts, cardio, diet, and getting adequate rest. [3]

MYTH #3. Getting out of shape takes two weeks.

This is a common mantra of those who favor the procrastination approach to fitness. Sadly muscle tissue begins to break down as early as within one week. Although rest periods are necessary for you to be fit, waiting too long between workouts cuts the momentum and makes the routine ineffective. [4]

MYTH #4. The best time to work out is in the morning.

Although we do have evidence that working out before breakfast engages the body to burn more fat throughout the day, the truth is the best time to work out differs from person to person. [5] In reality the consistency of your workout is more important than the time you do it – so choose a time of day that you can always do your practice.

MYTH #5. Lifting weights convert fat into muscles.

This is physiologically impossible since the two are very different kinds of tissues. When you perform cardio and strength-training exercises, you burn fat at the same time build muscles. This leads people to think that working out converts fat into muscle, when in fact it just so happens that losing the fat coincides with the process of growing muscles. [6]

MYTH #6. The best brain workouts are puzzles and games.

We often think that the mind and the body are two distinct entities separate from each other. In a way this is true, but it also is false, since the brain, which houses our mind is part of the body. Puzzles are fun and can improve some aspects of your mental health. However, we do have a lot of evidence proving that keeping yourself physically fit through exercise can improve cognition and memory. [7]

MYTH #7. Exercising once or twice a week is enough to keep you in shape.

The goal is to work out at least 3 times per week. Anything less than three times per week will not maximize the effects of exercise and cannot sustain the health benefits. The amount per week also depends on the intensity of your workout. The American Heart Association recommends that moderate aerobic activity is done at least 5 days per week and 3 days per week for a vigorous aerobic activity. [8]

MYTH #8. Lifting weights are for men.

It is a common fear for women that lifting weights will cause them to bulk up. The truth is lifting weights provides more benefits than just muscle. It helps you maintain muscle strength and also burns calories, which makes it easier for you to maintain your weight. While lifting weights can make your muscles larger, this only happens when you pair it with a high-calorie diet. This means that the risk of a woman accidentally bulking up is next to none – if done correctly. [9]

MYTH #9. Marathons are the best way to get fit.

Running a marathon is a serious feat that requires months and months of preparation. If you’re not yet ready to run a marathon, don’t fret since you can still enjoy the benefits of running without the same intensity. Studies have shown that running fast in short bursts of 5 to 10 minutes a day can provide the same benefits comparable to hours of running. In fact, if you are able to squeeze in a few minutes of fast running each day, you can even compare its effect to those who run three hours per week. [10] And there is other research that suggests that endurance exercise can have harmful effects overall.

MYTH #10. Food diaries are an exact way of controlling your eating habits.

A food diary is a great idea; since it gives you a better picture of your food intake and allows you to adjust your diet accordingly. There is evidence that keeping a food diary helps with losing weight, but it does carry a warning. [11] The effectiveness of the diary relies solely on your accuracy of keeping a record of what you have eaten. Unfortunately, we tend to overestimate our physical activity as well underestimate the amount of food we eat. So if you’re planning to use this method, make sure you do so honestly and measure your intake correctly.

MYTH #11. The best way to rehydrate is to drink sports drinks.

Unless you have a deficiency in sugar and electrolytes, you are unlikely required to drink a sports drink. Most of them are rich in sugar, which can wreak havoc on your blood sugar levels and can even give you tooth decay. If you want to rehydrate, nothing beats plain old water. [12]


[1] To Lose Weight, Eating Less Is Far More Important Than Exercising More. https://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/16/upshot/to-lose-weight-eating-less-is-far-more-important-than-exercising-more.html?_r=0

[2] Want a stronger core? Skip the sit-ups. http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/want-a-stronger-core-skip-the-sit-ups

[3] Science of Ab Workout Routines. http://www.shape.com/fitness/workouts/science-ab-workout-routines

[4] We asked an exercise scientist how long it takes to get ‘out of shape’ — and his answer is surprising. http://www.businessinsider.com/how-long-it-takes-to-get-out-of-shape-2015-6

[5] Training in the fasted state improves glucose tolerance during fat-rich diet. (2010). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20837645

[6] Fitness 411: Turning Fat Into Muscle. https://www.weightwatchers.com/util/art/index_art.aspx?tabnum=1&art_id=216631&sc=3040

[7] Exercise Training and Functional Connectivity Changes in Mild Cognitive Impairment and Healthy Elders. (2017). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28304298

[8] American Heart Association Recommendations for Physical Activity in Adults. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/PhysicalActivity/FitnessBasics/American-Heart-Association-Recommendations-for-Physical-Activity-in-Adults_UCM_307976_Article.jsp

[9] 7 Strength Training Myths Every Woman Should Know. https://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/7-strength-training-myths-every-woman-should-know/

[10] Leisure-Time Running Reduces All-Cause and Cardiovascular Mortality Risk
(2014). http://www.onlinejacc.org/content/64/5/472

[11] Can a Food Diary Help You Lose Weight? http://www.webmd.com/diet/obesity/features/can-food-diary-help-you-lose-weight#1

[12] Are Sports Drinks Bad for Your Mouth? http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/are-sports-drinks-bad-for-your-mouth#1

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