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Saturday, June 25, 2005

8 Exercise Myths

Myth 1: If you don’t exercise at least 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week there’s no point in exercising at all
Myth 2: Spot-training will reduce target areas of fat
Myth 3: Muscle turns to fat when you stop exercising
Myth 4: The best time to exercise is between 6 and 7 in the morning
Myth 5: Weight training makes you gain weight
Myth 6: No pain, no gain
Myth 7: You can’t exercise if you’ve just eaten
Myth 8: If you burn more calories than you eat, you will lose weight more effectively
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Myth 1: If you don’t exercise at least 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week there’s no point in exercising at all
Although 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week is the amount of exercise recommended for optimal health by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 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 10 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 2: Spot-training will reduce target areas of fat
There is no magic exercise for these problem areas. Sure, 500 crunches will tighten your tummy - but they're not going to do anything for the layer of fat surrounding the muscles. The American Council on Exercise states that doing "100 sit-ups a day for a flabby stomach will increase muscle endurance for the abdomen, but will not burn off the fat in that area." The fact is, it takes cardio to burn the fat.
Bottom line: Keep the crunches but add a power walk or some other cardio to reduce overall body fat.


Myth 3: Muscle turns to fat when you stop exercising
That's about as logical as saying your tennis shoes 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. Even better news - there is actually some evidence to show that your muscles can retain much of your previous exercise experience. A high-school athlete, or someone with previous exercise experience, may be able to start up a training regime much faster than a non-athlete. 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 a program ASAP!

Myth 4: The best time to exercise is between 6 and 7 in the morning
Not if you can't keep your eyes open! The best time to exercise is when it suits you best, provided you aim to get in your 30 minutes a day. 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 5: Weight training makes you gain weight
Think Madonna has a middle-aged paunch under that leather jacket? Or that Brittney Spears has a secret roll of flab ... no, wait a minute, nothing she wears could cover anything; definitely no flab! And yet both superstar and superstarlet pump iron as part of their daily fitness routines. We must conclude then, that although weight training may initially cause a slight jump upwards in pounds (because muscle weighs more than fat) it's not going to hinder your weight loss.
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 recognize that their weight training regime will only be boosted if they add some cardio.
Bottom line: Adding weights to your workout will only increase your results.

Myth 6: No pain, no gain
Intense pain doesn't benefit your body
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".
While we're on the subject, few people realize that even the way they exercise can lead to injury. For example, walking with hand weights can cause unnecessary damage to your body. The extra weight is not significant enough to make a difference and nine times out of ten incorrect use just causes excess strain to muscles and joints. It's better to do a short strength building workout after a walk.
Bottom line: When you feel pain, immediately stop. When you feel a slight burn, keep on truckin'!

Myth 7: 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 beliefs, 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 Thanksgiving dinner you may make yourself 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.

Myth 8: If you burn more calories than you eat, you will lose weight more effectively
Aim for 4 green ticks on your Food and Exercise Diary
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 has low body weight but high body fat. You also miss out on important nutrients.
The CalorieKing.com plan has three calorie categories: food calories, exercise calories and overall calories. No matter how many calories you burn, you need a certain amount of calories in order to lose weight effectively. If you only exercise a small amount, you should stay around your recommended net calorie intake. If you exercise more than normal, that's a bonus. If you exercise in extreme amounts, you need to replenish many of those burnt calories. Some people will eat 1500 calories but burn 1000 working out for an overall calorie intake of 500! Not a good idea for effective weight-loss or general health and well-being.
Bottom line: Eat enough calories for your body to lose weight effectively and always stay near your overall recommended calorie intake.

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