The Total Self – Confronting Fitness Fiction

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In our fast-paced times, a good workout can be a stress reliever, a sweet release from the daily grind. In these times, the gym has become a lifestyle for many. A lot of gym rats (such as yours truly) LOVE a good workout, before work, after work, whatever. But as far as this article will go, we are talking fitness myths versus reality. A lot of the fitness fiction floating around gym culture is not helpful at all- these fictictious “truisms” can open you up to injury, damage to your CNS (central nervous system), for some an obsession that will destroy them (in extreme cases). Before I begin, I must say that this article (and this site) is not a substitute for sound medical advice. Please consult your primary care provider for all things fitness/wellness related.

 

MYTH #1. Bodies are made in the kitchen.

It is a common belief that changing eating habits and specific exercises will cause you to lose weight. A better way is to find out how your body works- bloodtype, bodytype, body structure, stress and vice cessation amongst other things. Then you can focus on diets and all of that.[1]

MYTH #2. If you want a six pack abs, all you need to do are 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. A better alternative is to try a mix of sit-ups, crunches, v-ups amongst other exercises. [3]

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

This is a common mantra of those who favor the mass-media, “bro science” 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 laughable since it is physiologically impossible!! 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 3-5 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. Add to that, weightlifting makes a woman more attractive (look at fitness models doing squats if you don’t believe me). Simply put, if a woman doesn’t want to look like a man, don’t train like one[9]

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

Yes, there are people who think this. Running a marathon is a serious feat that requires months and years 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 good idea (in theory) since ideally it will give you a better picture of your food intake and allows you to adjust your diet accordingly. [11] The effectiveness of the diary relies solely on your accuracy and honesty of those records. In all reality, people tend to overestimate physical activity as well overlook the amount of food that is eaten. So if you’re planning to use this method, make sure you do so honestly and measure your intake correctly. Food diaries are just that. If you want to control your eating habits, confront your cravings and change your eating habits. Food diaries, motivation, or anything else will not do it.

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

Great marketing has contributed to this notion. Seeing athletes guzzle down Gatorade, Crystal Light, Powerade, Propel, All-Sport and others has people believing that sports drinks are the way to go as far as hydration and rehydration goes. These sports drinks are laden in sugar, which can wreak havoc on your blood sugar levels and can even give you tooth decay (in extreme cases). For all intents and purposes, nothing beats water. Sports drinks can give you an energy boost, as they are designed to do. Nothing wrong with that, but don’t neglect water.[12]

Fitness fiction. Something that needs to be debunked, destroyed and dismissed. These are just eleven examples that are promoted to varying degrees. As I always say, knowledge is the master key of master keys to fitness. Knowledge is one of the basics to winning “the battle of the bulge” and to winning in life. THE BASICS ALWAYS WIN.


References:

[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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About Author

Kente Bates

OSN Fitness Expert Kente Bates is a personal trainer, writer, and coach. He has been involved in sports and fitness for over 20 years. You can reach him on twitter: @halcyonfg16. His health/fitness blog, Halcyon Fitness Group : halcyonfitnessblog.wordpress.com and his email (where you can ask questions concerning health, fitness or anything relating): halcyonfitnessgroup@gmail.com

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