8 Exercise Myths Exposed

It's amazing what excuses people will come up with to get out of exercising, from "My dog ate my sneakers" to "I'm saving my energy for work tomorrow." But even excuses that actually seem reasonable are often no more than myths in a sensible-sounding disguise.

Read on as we set the record straight on eight popular exercise myths.

Myth: If you don't exercise every day, there's no point

Although thirty minutes a day, five days a week is the amount of exercise recommended for optimal health by health professionals, it's not a requirement. Exercise is beneficial no matter how little is done.

That doesn't mean regular exercise is not a necessity for weight-loss and good health, but it does mean you shouldn't deprive yourself of exercise just because you can't get in as much as you'd like. Spending ten minutes each night walking your dog is much more beneficial to your health then sitting in front of the television.

Bottom line: Any amount of exercise will do your body good!

Myth: Spot-training will reduce target areas of fat

Spot-training might feel like it's making a difference to fatty areas, but while crunches will tighten your tummy, they won't actually do anything for the layer of fat surrounding the muscles. That's because muscle training builds muscle; it doesn't reduce fat. To burn fat, you need to do cardiovascular exercise.

Bottom line: Keep the crunches to help tone your body and build muscle strength, but add a power walk or some other cardio activity to reduce overall body fat.

Myth: Muscle turns to fat when you stop exercising

That's about as logical as saying your sneakers will turn into stilettos if you stop wearing them!

Despite what you may have heard, muscle does not turn to fat if you stop exercising. When you stop exercising, your muscles will shrink because they're not being used, but it's impossible for them to convert to fat.

In fact, there is actually some evidence to show that your muscles can retain much of your previous exercise experience. So: "I don't want to start exercising because as soon as I stop, I'll lose all my muscle," is second-to-none in the lame excuses box.

Bottom line: Muscle will not turn to fat if you stop exercising so quit the excuses and start exercising!

Myth: The best time to exercise is early morning

Not if you can't keep your eyes open! The best time to exercise is when it suits you best.

If you're not a morning person, don't even think about exercising in the morning - you'll most likely fall off your bike or trip up on your shoelace or forget where it was you were supposed to jog to. The same thing goes for people who don't have time in the afternoon or who are completely drained by nightfall; exercise when you can, not when you think you should. There is no "best time" and no specific time when your body will burn more fat.

Bottom line: The best time to exercise is the time you exercise best.

Myth: Weight training makes you gain weight

Think Madonna has a middle-aged paunch under that leather jacket? Of course not! Yet she pumps iron as part of her daily fitness routines.

Many women are afraid that picking up a set of weights will cause them to bulk up, and so they argue that cardio workouts will do the trick. But this is a falsehood because testosterone plays a large part in creating larger muscles and women simply don't produce enough of it to gain bulk when lifting weights. Toned definition in the arms and legs is far more likely to be the outcome of some weight training if you're female.

Men, on the other hand, often lift weights to bulk up but avoid cardio workouts like the plague. Men need to recognise that their weight training regime will be boosted if they add some cardio.

Bottom line: Adding weights to your workout won't make you gain bulk. In fact, it will increase your fitness, boost your results, and rev up your metabolism.

Myth: No pain, no gain

How many times have you heard this simple but stupid phrase ... and believed it? Pain is your body's way of telling you that you're doing it harm, so don't ignore it! Constantly pushing through that pain can only result in injury. A little bit of discomfort is fine, but any more than that and you should listen to your body - not the voice in your head saying "no pain, no gain".

Bottom line: When you feel pain, immediately stop. When you feel a slight burn, keep on going!

Myth: You can't exercise if you've just eaten

It may be uncomfortable to exercise immediately after you've eaten but it's not going to do you any damage. Contrary to popular belief, even swimming after you've eaten is fine.

It is true that exercise after a large meal may interfere with digestion as energy is directed away from the digestion process and towards the exercise; this can result in a slight stomach ache. However, all this really means is that if you run a marathon after Christmas lunch you may make yourself feel ill. A comfortably-paced walk after the meal would be a better option and might help to relieve some of that bloated feeling.

Bottom line: You can exercise after you eat, but don't overdo it.

(Warning! If you do experience extreme tiredness or discomfort while exercising after eating after a meal, notify your doctor as it may be a symptom of undiagnosed hypertenstion.)

Myth: If you burn more calories than you eat, you will lose weight effectively

Lose weight? Yes. Effectively? No. When too few calories are consumed your body believes it is being starved and almost every calorie you consume is held on to.

Before your body will burn the fat you are trying to lose, it will start eating the muscle. This is why someone with anorexia may have low body weight but high body fat. You also miss out on important nutrients.

No matter how many calories you burn, you still need a certain amount of calories in order to lose weight effectively. On CalorieKing plans, this amount of calories is referred to as your daily Calorie Target. If you exercise, you move further away from your Calorie Target and therefore need to "eat back" those calories.

Bottom line: Eat enough calories for your body to lose weight effectively and always stay near your daily Calorie Target.

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