Exercise Myths and Misconceptions
What you believe about exercise affects how successful you’ll be at it, so don’t believe the lies
A friend told you, you saw it in a movie, or you read it online. Wherever you get your information about exercise, make sure you check it against the facts. The underlying views you have about working out can greatly influence how successful you’ll be at it. Faulty thinking can lead to injury, burnout, or lack of results—three things nobody wants on the journey to better health.
Read on to make sure you haven’t fallen for the following misconceptions about exercise.
“I’m not overweight, so I don’t need to work out.”
Skinny people are not off the hook when it comes to exercise. Physical activity is important for everyone, regardless of size. Yes, one of the main benefits of exercise is weight loss and maintenance, but it’s definitely not the only one. Regular physical activity improves the health of your heart, muscles, bones, and joints; reduces your risk for serious illness such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer; and is a great way to manage stress, relieve anxiety, and boost your mood.
“Strength training is for men only.”
Strength training has a reputation for being a man’s world, but it’s not. It’s true, most of the people you see lifting weights at the gym are male. Where are the women? On the treadmills or elliptical machines. This is likely due to a common misconception that lifting weights causes women to bulk up. Men desire to have broad shoulders and hefty biceps, whereas most women don’t. Because women produce much less testosterone than men, they don’t need to worry about getting large muscles. Both genders can benefit from building and strengthening muscle.
“My calorie counter is accurate.”
Most cardio machines or wearable fitness devices tell you how many calories you burn during exercise. The problem is, many times this figure is not accurate. Unless the machine knows your weight, fitness level, and sex, it likely overestimates your calorie burn. Thinking you burned more calories can lead to overeating and under-exercising, so don’t take the calorie count too seriously.
“Mornings are the best time to work out.”
Many people believe the best time to work out is the morning. If you’re not a morning person, this thought may paralyze you and cause you to give up on your exercise plans. The truth is, the best time to exercise is whatever time you can make it a habit. This might be in the morning, during your lunch break, after work, or late at night.
“You can turn fat into muscle or muscle into fat.”
There’s a misconception that strength training is able to convert fat cells into muscle cells. There’s also a misconception that once you quit working out, all the muscle you built will turn into fat. Fat and muscle are two separate tissues.
Fat cells are found in between muscles and around organs. Muscles are located throughout the body. Despite what you may think, they can’t change from one to the other.
The best way to lose fat cells is by eating a healthy diet. When you stop working out, your muscles may shrink and soften, but they don’t turn into fat.
“Exercise is so boring.”
It’s no wonder people quit exercise if they think it’s boring. Running on a treadmill day in and day out would get boring for anyone. If you find exercise boring, you likely haven’t experimented with different workouts. Do something that challenges you, that inspires you, or that you enjoy. Take up racquetball, join a baseball league, try paddle boarding, or lift weights with a friend. The options are endless.
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