10 Diet, Fitness and Exercise Myths

1. More is better. In some things, yes; in exercise, no. Your body will respond in a positive manner to an appropriate amount of stress (demand) placed upon it. Exceeding that amount is usually a waste of time (depending on your reasons for exercising) and quite possibly may be counterproductive.

2. Exercise can’t be fun. Fortunately, almost everyone can find an exercise activity that meets his or her particular needs and is well-tolerated (emotionally, as well as physically). If you don’t find your conditioning regimen to be relatively enjoyable, it is very likely that you will give it up for “greener pastures.”

3. The more you sweat, the more fat you lose. If you exercise in extreme heat and/or humidity or in “rubberized” clothing, you certainly will sweat and lose weight. Any weight lost in this manner, however, represents lost water — not fat. When you replenish your body fluid stores by eating and drinking, those lost pounds will return.

4. Muscle will turn to fat when you stop lifting weights. Absolutely not possible. When you stop strength training, your muscles may lose some of their girth but will not be transformed into fat. You may increase the amount of subcutaneous fat surrounding the muscle.

5. Performing aerobic-type exercise at a low — rather than a high — level of intensity promotes a greater loss of body fat. While it is true that the lower your exercise intensity level, the more your body prefers to use fats rather than carbohydrates as fuel, the absolute amount of fat calories burned during high intensity exercise tends to be equal to or greater than the number expended during low intensity activity. You lose weight and body fat when you expend more calories than you consume, not because you burn fat (or anything else) when you exercise.

6. During exercise you’ll become thirsty when your body needs water. Not true. Your thirst mechanism almost always tends to underestimate your fluid needs during exercise. As a result, you should consume a small amount of fluid at least every 15-20 minutes while exercising.

7. Strength training is a more appropriate activity for men than women. Absolutely not! Strength training can be just as beneficial (if not more so) for a woman as it is for a man. A higher level of muscular fitness has been shown to have numerous desirable consequences for women of all ages (e.g., better muscle tone, greater strength, enhanced self image, increased bone density, increased metabolism)

8. Exercise is a contest. The word “contest” usually connotes a natural dichotomy of “winners” and “losers.” Exercise, however, should not be viewed as a contest, for several reasons, not the least of which is the fact that if you exercise properly, there are no losers — only winners!

9. Strength training will make you bigger. In reality, a number of factors influence the degree of muscle hypertrophy (growth) that an individual experiences as a result of engaging in a strength-training program. Almost all of these factors are genetic. The majority of men and almost all women lack the necessary level of male hormones requisite for a noticeable increase in muscular hypertrophy.

10. No pain, no gain. Wrong! Exercise should not be painful. A feeling of discomfort (e.g., a “burning” sensation in your muscles, muscular soreness, etc.) is generally a sign that you’re asking your body to do something that it is not used to doing. Such a feeling often occurs when a previously sedentary individual initiates an exercise program. Pain, on the other hand, is your body’s signal to you that you’re exercising to the point where you may be harming yourself.