Ten Common Myths in Health and Fitness

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    Mar 31, 2013
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Ten Common Myths in Health and Fitness Photo by Gabrielle Williams

Over the years I have noticed that persons believe in various myths and in turn make futile efforts along their journey of achieving good health and ultimate fitness. Persons also need to be aware that their bodies are unique and respond to changes in different ways compared to others.

The most popular myth I have heard is that one should go on a 'low or no carb diet' to lose weight. Carbohydrates (carbs) are your primary source of energy, necessary for endurance and stamina. A lack of carbs may result in loss of concentration and fatigue. An interesting fact is that when one exercises and breaks down carbs, the byproduct of the broken down carbs then break down fat. If you do not eat enough carbs, your protein will be broken down instead, so you would be using the wrong reserve and could possibly deter muscle and tissue growth and repair. So how did this myth come about? There are three types of carbs, simple, complex and very complex carbs. It is the simple carbs that one should eliminate from the diet. Simple carbs include white sugar, honey, glucose syrup, preservatives, white rice, white bread, plain pasta, candies, soda, pastries and juice concentrates. Those carbs have a high glycemic index, meaning, it would be rated close to 100 because after consumption you would get a burst of energy to a high level, which would then fall shortly after, within an hour or two. Very complex carbs also known as fibre, aid in digestion by adding bulk to our food, but are not often eaten, for instance phsylum husk and whole meal bread. However, it is complex carbs (starches) that we should all eat, they contain a lot of fibre as well, keeping us full for a longer period of time after eating them. Complex carbs include beans, vegetables, whole grain and whole wheat products such as pasta, breads, cereals, crackers etc. Boiled banana and potatoes, especially sweet potatoes are considered good complex carbs to have as well.

Some people believe the more clothes they wear to the gym or to workout such as waist bands and sweat jackets help them to lose weight quicker. The extra clothes are basically absorbing what you are going to put back in. Hydration is extremely important before, during and after exercise. One should have water about 2 hours, then 15 minutes before exercise, 20 or 25 minutes into exercise and within 1 to 2 hours after exercise. So basically all the water that was used to hydrate the body before would be what was lost as perspiration to soak that sweat jacket and would return to the body when the person rehydrates. Hydration is important to avoid muscle cramps and dehydration or lack of energy.

Persons also believe if they haven't worked up a big sweat, they haven't done a good workout. Sweating is not an indicator of a good workout, its just the body's way of cooling down. Light weight training or taking a walk hardly ever works up a big sweat.

A lot of men believe weight lifting and bench pressing will help them to lose weight. Absolutely not! They only help to shine off the finished product. Cardiovascular workouts along with some resistance training must be done to shed the weight first, then the weight lifting and bench pressing to tone and bulk up a little after. Otherwise, one would just be building muscle on fat, which is not an attractive site.

Thinking along the same lines surfaces another theory, that doing arms and abs everyday, otherwise known as 'spot reduction', will make you get bulky arms or a 'six pack'. One should never work out the same area of the body for two days consecutively. The muscles need at least 48 hours to recover and repair. Also in terms of getting a 'six pack', doing exercises concentrated on the abs alone will not help. Cardiovascular workouts have to be done mainly to trim the belly fat first. Numerous amounts of ab crunches will not help either and will have no effect on that lower belly pouch on the ladies . A variation of other strength training exercises that concentrate on the whole core such as planks, have to be done as well. So, in reality, when you concentrate exercise on a certain area of the body, fat is not only reduced in that area, but in other areas of the body in the same proportion. Thus, muscles in the exercised area get tighter and the entire body loses fat, creating the illusion of fat loss in the targeted area.

Persons often get the impression that if you work out long and hard enough, you will always get the results you want. Do not expect this to be true when you work out for hours two or three days straight and then have an alcoholic binge on the weekend or ice cream, junk food and sodas. The body is ungrateful, one small slip and all your hard work for that week would have gone in vain.

The previous point brings to mind that people believe and practice the popular term, 'No pain, no gain'. If anyone feels pain during a workout they are to stop doing what they are doing immediately, check their form and adjust if necessary, change the exercise completely or if its that severe that no other type of exercise can be done without feeling the pain, they are to seek medical attention as soon as possible. So what is it that persons are suppose to feel? Feel the burn people. There is a distinct difference between 'the burn' and pain.

Everyone loves to exercise to upbeat, high impact music during their workout. Some persons think, no matter what type of workout they are doing, the more upbeat or faster the music, the faster they should go to keep up with it.  Be careful. It could be quite harmful and is unsafe to go beyond a certain level of respiration or speed, especially when doing resistance and weight training, or if under strict doctor's orders. Muscles could become torn or strained, bones could become broken, and shortness of breath or cardiovascular attack could occur amongst other injuries.

Usually its the same upbeat, fast pace music lovers that would think 'yoga' is too slow or easy for a workout to help one to lose weight. Many different variations of yoga exist. However, the type involving 'strength and stretch' is an excellent way to work out and tone all areas of the body.

Lastly, after a few weeks of exercise, persons step on the scale and panic because their weight hasn't changed much. Don't worry. Aren't your clothes fitting a little better? Inches go before pounds. Our bodies are different and the fat tissue is also being replaced by muscle. A fat calibrated electronic scale is excellent to judge this as well as to compare your body's hydration level, especially if you were really bloated that day. The percentage of muscle and bone weight can also be measured on these modern scales. Always weigh yourself at the same time, first thing in the morning in the nude after you have used the bathroom.

Hopefully the myths exposed will no longer leave you misguided, but encourage you to keep moving forward along the right path on your journey of ultimate health and fitness.


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