Fitness Myths 101: Letting Go of What You (Think You) Know
March 2022 Issue
Energy Express by Marilynn Preston
Learning how to live a happier, healthier lifestyle can be challenging, especially if there are crispy french fries on the table. But unlearning what you think you know is even trickier.
Our brains are constantly being reminded of stuff that simply isn’t true, like popular fitness myths that need unlearning and debunking, and that’s what I’m setting out to do today, aided by a lovely list assembled by the American Council on Exercise (ACE). (Disclaimer: I’m a member. They certify fitness trainers. I am one.)
Myth No. 1: To reduce your risk of injury, you should always stretch before exercise. Sadly, this is false. It’s hard to believe, but there is nothing in the scientific literature that confirms that stretching before exercise makes you safer. Darn. I say get Monsanto on the job. They can prove almost anything, including the safety of genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
And the truth about stretching is that it’s very good for you in many energizing ways.
Stretching brings blood to tired muscles. It juices the joints. It focuses the mind on the breath, always helpful in getting the energy to flow.
So please don’t use this myth as an excuse not to stretch, to stay limber, to keep your hips open and your shoulders loose, to work on your agility and flexibility. (This is why yoga was invented.)
And not to add to your confusion, know this: ACE does have research showing that stretching after you exercise can lower your risk of injury. Go figure.
MYTH No. 2: Walking a mile burns as many calories as running a mile. Only in Dreamland. Yes, walking is a splendid form of exercise and should be encouraged morning, noon and night. But running gives you a greater energy burn, meaning it melts more calories, as much as 40 percent more.
If you love to walk and can’t stand to run, however, so be it. This is Preston talking. Start where you are. Walking is 1,000 percent better for you than eating Doritos in front of your Facebook page. And if counting calories is your thing, just step up your pace. Even better ... learn to race walk. It’s a great workout, and your knees will thank you.
MYTH No. 3: Lactic acid causes acidosis and muscle fatigue. We all learned in school that lactic acid builds up in your muscles when you exercise, and causes muscles to hurt and become tired. We all learned wrong. Lactate does not cause metabolic acidosis. In fact, the production of lactic acid is actually useful when it comes to exercising at high intensity.
How can something so drilled into us be so wrong? It gives me new hope for discovering the
healing power of hot fudge.
MYTH No. 4: Morning workouts increase metabolism better than workouts later in the day. Not true. A morning workout doesn’t do more for your metabolism than a workout later in the day. Do it when you do it ... but do it! This is not a myth: The sedentary lifestyle is a killer!
MYTH No. 5: Muscle weighs more than fat. I would’ve bet the ranch on this one—and been wrong. Of course a pound of muscle weighs the same as a pound of fat. The difference is their density. When we lose fat and gain muscle—something many of us pray for on a daily basisour weight may change very little. What does happen is that our body volume decreases. A lower body volume means looser jeans and less belly fat, no matter what your scale might read.
MYTH No. 6: Women who don’t want to look bulky should avoid resistance training. Nonsense. For one thing, biceps that bulge well-defined, not too much—tell people you are taking care of yourself, toning your muscles, boosting your strength.
The truth is women can’t bulk up to the extent men do because they are lacking in testosterone. There are ways around that, but none that I would recommend. What I do urge is strength training for all! The benefits are boundless.
FITNESS MYTHS REVEALED! SO NOW WHAT?
“It is easy to sit up and take notice; what is difficult is getting up and taking action.”
— Al Batt
Marilynn Preston—healthy lifestyle expert, well being coach and Emmy-winning producer—is the creator of Energy Express, the longest-running syndicated fitness column in the country. Follow her at www.marilynnpreston.com.
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