Psyched to set new goals, get fitter, lose a few kilos, exercise regularly and improve your diet? With all the health information available around us, it can get confusing as to which health tips actually work. You might even be already applying contradicting concepts without knowing it.
Here are some of the most popular fitness misconceptions that have repeatedly been debunked and you will do well to keep them in mind.
Myth #1: Sit-ups and crunches will flatten your stomach
Abdominal exercises such as sit-ups and crunches help strengthen muscles in your midsection but will not actually strip away the fat. The only way to remove fat is to perform cardio/aerobic exercises to burn calories in your whole body and engage in strength training which helps increase metabolism. Of course, following a well-balanced diet is always important.
Myth #2: You can burn fat in specific body parts if you perform exercises that target those areas
It is known as “spot training" in certain fitness circles but actually targeted exercises would not do anything to make your thighs or your arms slimmer. It is virtually impossible to reduce any body part you choose because it is the body that predetermines which fat stores it will use at any given time.
If for instance, you do sit-ups regularly it would help strengthen your abdominal muscles, but it will NOT remove fat from the stomach. Likewise running helps burn fat but not just on your legs but on your entire body. This is not to say however that a balanced exercise program is a hopeless cause - with emphasis on the word “balanced". Selecting the right weight training exercises can help you lose weight - and tone specific body parts.
Myth #3: Exercise hard and regularly or do not exercise at all
One reason why a lot of women give up on exercise is the lack of time. But you know what? You do not need a gym membership or to run five kilometres a day to get the exercise your body needs! Simple 10-minute exercises done at intervals throughout the day help reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke. Taking time to do simple activities such as walking, taking the stairs, stretching, or performing strength exercises for 10 minutes at a time is not so hard - and that is better than having no exercise at all.
Myth #4: A woman's body bulks up when she lifts weights
The muscular female weightlifters you see on TV often take hormonal supplements to get in the kind of shape they are in. Weight training alone will not accidentally turn your body into that of an Amazon warrior! Testosterone levels (higher in men than in women) are also often responsible for the “inflation" of muscles when a person lifts weights. Weight training will, in fact, helps you slim down because your muscles take up less room than fat. As an added bonus, it also helps increase strength, boosts your metabolism, and lower risk of osteoporosis.
Myth #5: Low-intensity done over longer periods allow you to burn more fat
It is the total amount of calories you burn each time you exercise that matters, more than the percentage of fat calories you lose. The total calories you burn per minute will be a lot higher if you walk run or swim faster - even if you burn fewer “fat calories". As a result, you lose more weight.
A proper balance between cardiovascular/aerobic exercises strength training and diet is the most effective way of losing weight. It takes work discipline and perseverance - but you can bet that it is the most effective combination to stay fit and healthy; not to mention natural too. Feel free to consult your physician or any health professional if you have any concerns. The important thing is to make informed decisions and stick to them. Make it a habit to be fit and feel good this coming year.
Written by Andrew Verdon