So, I thought for my post this week I would look into some health and fitness myths that are always coming up either online or even in person. When I am out and about, people always like to throw the latest piece of science that they have heard in my direction. I feel that this is sometimes to get advice or at other times, a test. I like to just go quiet. No-one likes the smart-arse at the party, do they?
Let’s take a look at some of these myths and of course if you have any questions then let me know in the comments section below.
To Stay in Shape, You Only Need to Work Out Once a Week
Well, I don’t think I need to say an awful lot about this.
Spending time exercising is a really important part of staying fit and healthy. And whilst exercising once a week is better than nothing at all, you really won’t see much benefit from it. To make inroads into being really fit and healthy, I feel that you should be exercising at least for three hours a week and on three different occasions.
The types of exercise will reflect what you are trying to achieve be that concentrating on fat loss, building muscle or other things such as becoming stronger. You could of course be trying to get a mixture of different types of goals.
A massive piece of the puzzle for staying in shape is getting your nutrition right. If you aren’t solid in your nutrition, you will find it extremely difficult to stay in shape.
You cannot out train a bad diet.
Weight Lifting Turns Fat into Muscle
I have also heard variations of this one such as,
“Don’t put on too much muscle as it will turn to fat when you are older.”
What a complete load of rubbish.
Let’s just knock this one on the head, shall we?
Muscle and fat are two completely different things. You can not turn one into the other, much like lead cannot be turned into gold.
Fat is made from lipids that sit in little sacks called adipose tissue and muscle is made up of amino acid.
So no, fat will not get turned in muscle.
I think what people are likely to mean is that once a person starts to train more seriously, they lose fat. This is normally down to an increase in exercise, a better diet and a calorie deficit. They also then increase their muscle mass due to their new regime.
This causes people to believe that fat can be turned into muscle.
You Can Target Your Fat Burn
I love the way that you see advertisements for body specific workouts that are designed to melt away fat from a specific area.
“Torch fat from your abs with this core workout”
“Burn away fat with this booty drill”
If only this was the case. There would be millions of people that have the most amazing six-pack but have really fat faces.
I mean, have you ever tried to do a face workout? Crunches for faces don’t exist.
The body stores fat all over the body. In certain areas, the amount of fat stored is more than others. This is different for everyone and can be determined by any number of things. These reasons include genetics, age, diet history, hormones etc….
When fat is accessed by the body to be used as energy, it is mobilised from all parts of the body. Not just one specific place.
The exercises you do, have no bearing on where the fat is taken from. The reason why you may still have more fat in a specific area is due to the amount of adipose tissue (fat cells) that you have in that area.
The only way to “melt that fat away” is to decrease your body fat percentage. You can only do this by operating in a calorie deficit.
And this only happens if you eat less calories than you burn off during the day.
No Pain, No Gain
As you look through social media on the profiles of those that are connected to health and fitness, you will see that almost all will saying things like this.
That unless you are smashing every session and leaving like you can’t walk anymore, you aren’t ever going to see the benefits of exercise
This view has filtered through the whole industry because I feel that it easy to do. It requires almost no imagination on behalf of the fitness “professionals” to post slogans and mottos like,
“Go hard or go home”
“No pain, no gain”
“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”
What’s missing is that this isn’t true. You don’t have to kill yourself during every session. In fact, you shouldn’t.
When you train, you are by and large causing damage within the body. This is how you get stronger, fitter and faster. The body repairs itself which leads to its development.
If you are training several times per week at a high intensity you are also taxing your central nervous system. To continue to do this can cause fatigue and sometimes Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
What I’m saying here is that the body needs time to repair and rest. Without this time for rest, fatigue will set in, you may get injured and you will become weaker.
I would suggest that no-one does more than three high intensity sessions per week. During the other sessions you should think about other low intensity exercise. Things like walking the dog, going for a bike ride or for a swim.
You could even do these things with family or friends, getting the social element into your training. This will make you feel even better in the long-term.
You Should Stretch Before You Work Out
This is a great myth, that for many years and you may still see it, was being practiced by everyone; from the professional to the amateur.
It was thought that stretching before exercise allowed blood to flow and stretched the connective tissues, stopping people from picking up injuries.
Recent studies have found that this isn’t the case.
These studies have concluding that generations of sports people have been wrong and in fact, static stretching before exercise has a negative impact on performance.
Stretching leads to people having less stability through their joints and therefore unable to produce large amounts of power.
Essentially this means, athletes don’t run as fast or jump as high after stretching.
Instead what we should be doing is warming-up before sessions. This is a dynamic movement which gives tissue flexibility and extra blood flow. Getting the body ready for exercise.
However, this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t stretch. Stretching after exercise is still good for you but also stretching throughout the day should be done.
Get up from your desk and do some stretching once in a while.
Running on A Treadmill is as Effective as Running Outside
One of the craziest things I see on a sunny day are rows and rows of “zombies” running on treadmills with their headphones on in gyms up and down the country. Actually, this happens all over the world.
I know that doing something is better than doing nothing at all but if these people went outside and ran, they would be getting so much more benefit from their exercise.
I personally find the running position on the treadmill to be so unnatural that it has caused me injuries in the past. How have you found it?
There are also other advantages to running outside.
Outside there are external forces acting against you that make you work harder, giving you more bang for your buck. The wind and rain naming just two.
You have to work harder if the ground is uneven, it’s bin day or you are dodging along kerbs and through crowds of people. These movements also make you use supporting muscles within the joints as you twist and turn and have to stabilise your ankle on a country footpath.
You aren’t breathing in air-conditioned air, that dries out your lungs and probably contains all the germs that are brought in by others!
It’s free. (Say no more)
But also, the positive impact on your mental health cannot be overstated. Being outside is proven to calm the nerves and release chemicals that give you natural highs.
Why would you want to be inside?
I hope that these myths have been blown out of the water for you after reading this.
If you have any myths that you want me to talk about in other posts then please add them below. I would love to hear from you.
Be all you can be