Many try to achieve a healthier relationship with our body, through various held beliefs about food and exercise. However, some of these beliefs and assumptions regarding exercise can be counter-productive in helping us achieve our goals, and may even lead us into vicious cycles of compulsive exercising that is unsustainable in the long run.
Here are five important and prevalent myths about exercise from various sources (shape.com. bodybuilding.com and Huffington Post) that are most relevant. Hopefully, these will also improve your relationship with exercise!
You shall know the truth, and the truth will set you free.
#1 Cardio is not necessarily best in burning calories and fat.
Many of us have the perception that doing high amounts of cardio is the best way to lose weight and attain our desired physique. This is especially so for young women, who invest hours into the treadmill. Yet, as we fail to see results, we also feel a constant, compulsive need to increase the intensity of our workouts.
The truth is, as I have also discussed in the article on HIIT, resistance or strength training may be more effective than cardio in burning overall fat. Studies have shown that women who do strength-training can burn an average of 100 more calories in the subsequent 24 hour interval without lifting a finger! (shape.com) Time to hit those weights and burpees!
#2 Lifting weights will not make you bulky and like a man!
Many women shun weight lifting and strength training because we don’t want to end up with a bulky, masculine body. Yet, this is not true and only perpetuates the idea that women belong only to the treadmill in a gym!
In actual fact, muscle has higher density than fat. Hence, the more muscle we build, the ‘tighter’ our bodies become, not bigger. The highly athletic, muscular women we seeare bulky, but that is because they possess unusually high muscle mass combined with “excess” body fat. Hence, weight training can actually render us leaner and more toned provided we eat right!
Furthermore, much of the weight-training nightmare physiques of women we see online owe their existence to unnatural, heavy stimulation. Naturally, women lack the testosterone required to build and bulk, and hence we are more likely to become toned and slimmer instead of being completely shredded!
Don’t worry though; it’s never too late to start lifting!
#3 Our muscle does not turn into fat when we stop exercising!
The fear fuelled by this myth is undoubtedly what pushes us to constantly exercise. However, the surprises life often throws at us means that we may not have the luxury of regular exercise. Does this mean we will immediately turn into fat slobs the moment we stop exercising?
Well, muscle and fat are fundamentally different types of tissues and are not mutually convertible! Naturally, when we stop exercising, our muscles will begin to atrophy and shrink. However, our diet may remain the same, and with less calorie output, we may start to accumulate more fat, creating the illusion of weight gain.
Thus, if circumstances force us to exercise less, we simply have to watch our diets more carefully, through consuming more nutritious foods that can keep us fuller for longer.
#4 Spot-training is impossible. We can’t isolate fat loss in our belly, thighs or arms!
Many of us are dissatisfied with certain parts of our bodies, and would like to specifically target these. This is why you see people spam crunches, lunges or tricep dips in an effort to target these ‘problem’ areas.
Yet, this belief is misguided. Scientifically speaking, as we exercise the fat that we burn as fuel is taken from all parts of the body, not just a single part. This is why tennis players have identical fat content in both arms, even if they may have significantly more muscle on their dominant arm. So, if fat loss is our goal, this is only attainable through burning fat from all parts of the body. Furthermore, many spot-training exercises do not burn much calories after all, impeding overall weight loss. That area may become more toned due to buildup of muscle, but if fat content remains the same, the toned area is also covered by the fats instead!
Hence, to work on our desired body part, we recommend combining cardio with weight training and sensible nutrition for most effective weight loss and toning of muscles.
#5 Stretching before workout does not necessarily prevent injury!
During our school days, PE teachers would always include mandatory stretching exercises before sending us out for exercise. However, few of us actually have patience to stretch before exercising and would rather hit the gym immediately.
In fact, that may be beneficial for us. While stretching can increase the flexibility of your muscles, it has been shown scientifically that it has little benefit otherwise. What more, it can even counter the productivity of exercising. Instead, warming up with cardio exercises gets our blood flowing, preventing injury more efficiently. Static stretching should be done only after the workout to prevent muscle soreness in the following days.
Article was contributed by Roslyn of MadeReal.sg
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