We debunk some of the most popular exercise myths
You’ve heard the myths (and may have even bought into some of them): Do 100 crunches a day to get six-pack abs. It doesn’t matter what you eat as long as you exercise. No pain, no gain.
Exercise can do a lot of things, including hold diabetes at bay, help maintain a healthy weight, reduce the risk of heart disease, even lower your risks for some cancers. But if you buy into the myths, it can prevent you from getting the the workout you need.
Here, we separate exercise fiction from fact (and help you get the results you want):
Fiction: Stretch before you work out to prevent injuries.
Fact: Stretching after you exercise, when your muscles and joints are warm, can improve performance and flexibility, and help you maintain a healthy range of motion in your joints. Stretching is also good for reducing stress and improving circulation. But if you try to limber up before your workout, it doesn’t do much for you. In fact, studies show pre-workout static stretching—where you stay in place and try to touch your toes—doesn’t cause or prevent injury.
Fiction: You can target what part of your body burns fat.
Fact: Working out regularly reduces overall fat, but you can’t control what part of your body burns the most fat. Your body use fat as fuel when you exercise, but it uses fat from all over your body, not a targeted part.
Fiction: Crunches are the best way to get that six-pack.
Fact: Crunches don’t get rid of belly fat. If you want flatter abs, increase your cardio workouts and add resistance training that targets your core. This will decrease your overall body fat content, including the area around your midsection
Fiction: If you have a six-pack, it means your core is strong.
Fact: A six-pack is a sign of leanness, not a strong core. A strong core involves your abs, hips, glutes and lower back working together. The lower back, especially, tends to be the forgotten part of your core.
Fiction: Lifting weights makes women bulk up.
Fact: You won’t look like a bodybuilder because you lift weights. Women have low levels of testosterone so they don’t naturally build massive muscles. Lifting weights tones and shapes your body, while preventing loss of muscle mass. Pumping iron also helps build bone density and increases the rate at which your body burns calories to keep you at a healthy weight.
Fiction: When you stop strength training, muscle turns to fat.
Fact: Muscle doesn’t turn into fat. Fat can’t turn into muscle, either. They are two different types of tissue. What will happen when you stop strength training, however, is that you lose muscle mass and your metabolism slows. A sluggish metabolism means your body is burning fewer calories at rest; that can lead to weight gain.
Shoot for at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity each week, like brisk walking or swimming. If you choose more robust activities, like running or bicycling, you should do those for at least 75 minutes each week.
Additional reporting from Nichele Hoskins.