Whether you’re a Personal Trainer, Strength and Conditioning Coach, or just someone wanting to lose weight, fitness is a state of well being that can bring joy and happiness in various ways. With the growth of the internet and social media, fitness professionals, fitness enthusiasts, and fitness influencers are constantly trying to outdo one another by coming up with new training methods, and ways in which to get fit. As a result many fitness myths have surfaced, and gained undeserved attention very quickly. These are five fitness myths to avoid.
The following five fitness fables are some of the more misunderstood myths that need to be tackled.
Myth 1 – ‘you need to workout everyday to be fit’
A common misconception is that people believe they need to exercise everyday in order to maintain their fitness levels. With people running busy lifestyles and trying to juggle time, they barely have time to sit down and relax. Let alone exercise for several hours a day. It’s easy to see why so many people decide to not exercise at all.
In fact, The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends adult’s 18-64 to complete 150 minutes of moderate physical activity a week. This can be broken into five 30-minute blocks across the week.
You can simply walk the dog for exercise. Another option is meeting a friend for a game of tennis. Riding to the shops also counts.
If a 30-minute session seems too long, don’t worry. You can break it into three 10-minute bouts. Doing so has been shown to be just as effective.
Save even more time. The WHO says that if the activity is high intensity, only 75 min a week also has health benefits. That’s 15 minutes of exercise a day, five days a week! Health benefits include lower rates of all cause mortality from diseases of the heart, stroke, type 2 diabetes, cancers, depression and several others.
If still, you can’t invest that time, think that any exercise is better that none at all.
MYTH 2 – ‘the longer you workout the better’
The WHO suggests exercising up to 300 minutes a week for extra benefits. This breaks down to 60 minutes a day for five days. However, exercising beyond this hasn’t shown added health gains. This appears to be the limit for boosting general health. For athletes or those refining skills, longer workouts may be necessary. For most people, 150-300 minutes of moderate exercise per week is ideal. If the exercise is vigorous, 75-150 minutes per week is recommended.
Exercising too long can become counter-productive. It can increase the risk of injury and stress the body. Usually, this happens in extreme scenarios like training over 3-4 hours daily. Athletes in Ironman triathlons often experience this. While they may look super fit, they risk internal harm. Their strenuous routines can actually weaken their immune systems. This is compared to those living a well-balanced, healthy lifestyle.
MYTH 3 – ‘exercise is the best way to lose weight’
Exercise is obviously important and does contribute to weight loss, however if eating habits are poor then it is a lot more difficult to shake the weight off. Many studies have found that a smart eating plan alone is much more sufficient in inducing weight loss than exercise. Why is this? Well in order to lose weight a caloric deficit must be created, meaning the amount of calories burned must equal less than what is consumed through the diet. It is a lot harder to burn calories through exercise then it is to consume them through eating, so a healthy balanced diet is essential for weight loss.
MYTH 4 – ‘Weight training is only beneficial for men’
This myth was brought about by the fact that women find it harder to bulk up and gain muscle than men do. The reason for this is that men on average produce more testosterone than women, and it is this hormone that plays a major role in how muscle is built. This doesn’t mean women can’t gain muscle, it just means they won’t gain it as quickly or easily.
All this considered, one of the most important uses of weight training is to gain strength, which has nothing to do with gender. If women weight train they will be able to improve their relative strength by just as much as men do. Improving strength is also just as important for women as it is for men in terms of reducing the risk of injury, as muscles need to be strengthened around fragile joints.
MYTH 5 – ‘The best time to exercise is first thing in the morning’
The best time to exercise is anytime that it can be fit in. Some people say that training first thing in the morning is better as it gets the brain active and allows them to be more productive throughout the day. However for someone who works night shifts and may need to sleep during the day an afternoon run or gym session would suit better with their schedule. Consistency with exercise is the most important factor, and hence it doesn’t make a difference what time of the day you work out. So long as the activity is completed the benefits will be the same.
Fitness myths are covered in the Certificate III in Fitness.