BUSTED! 5 Myths about exercise that everyone falls for.
- Exercise always makes you happy
In many cases this is true. However, there are some very important considerations when this adage does not stack up. Research has proven that people who are significantly overweight DO NOT experience the same endorphin release from exercise as other people might. If you are a person living in a bigger body it’s important to understand that you will get a positive boost from exercise if it is the right type for you. That is, it gives you a sense of accomplishment, challenges a skill or provides a valuable social interaction. Just going to the gym might actually make you feel crap. The good news is, the more you move and are physically active the more likely you are to get those “feel good” hormones flowing.
- Running is bad for your joints
This one is massive. Time after time, I have people presenting to my gym saying they have “bad knees” from running for so many years or playing football when they were younger.
The reason this myth got started is because people from these recreations were presenting to doctors with knee problems, so they thought the recreation must be the problem. Seem logical right? Here’s what actually happened. After researching these populations over many years they realised these people were presenting to their doctors because their daily activities were being limited. They were finding it more difficult to run or jump or play so they sought a solution. They often went for an X-ray or MRI and found degeneration within the joint which was attributed to the difficulty in function. What we know now is that those degenerative changes are actually normal and present in EVERYONE, the only difference is how it impacts the person! In the rest of the population, who are inactive, having degeneration within your knee joints doesn’t stop you from sitting at a desk all day. It might however stop you going on that holiday, playing with your kids or taking up a sport again. We are now discovering, people who are active regularly actually experience less degeneration and a slower rate of joint degeneration than those who are inactive.
- Lifting weights makes women bulky
There are essentially 3 things that will make anyone put on muscle mass. These are common to both men and women.
First, mechanical stimulus. By this we mean a physical load on the muscle. This is the weight lifting part. The important thing here is that you have to get to a point of fatigue to stimulate muscle growth. That is, you could only lift the weight 1-2more times at most. This creates the signals for the muscle to build.
Second, food intake. You have to have excess energy in your diet to be able to build muscle. This is purely the laws of physics. Energy/matter cannot be created or destroyed only transformed or transferred. To build muscle you need protein to build with and LOTS of calories as energy for that process. If you’re lifting weights and not increasing you intake, odds are you won’t put on muscle.
Third, and probably most importantly, testosterone. This is the male androgenic hormone which is responsible for the physical differences and some psychological differences in men and women. These changes are particularly obvious during puberty where boys experience a massive boost in testosterone and will go through massive periods of growth. In general men will have about 5-7 times the amount of testosterone in their bodies at any given time. This hormone is one of the main drivers behind muscle growth, and therefore one of the main reasons women find it difficult to put on muscle mass.
Given there are so many benefits to resistance training, the women out there wanting to get fit without looking bulky can rest easy that their bodies will look after that for them.
- Cardio means treadmills
If your heart rate is increased, you are going to get some cardiovascular benefits. It’s that simple. By definition the best cardio exercises are those which include repetitive movements such as running, swimming, cycling, paddling but they are by no means the only way.
If cardio improvements are your goal then yes, by all means pursue those activities. The best thing there is that you be able to accurately measure and track your progress. Did you swim more laps? Faster 5k?
If that’s not your priority I would encourage you to pursue a broad range of different activities and feel safe in the knowledge that if your heart is pumping, it’s improving.
- You can’t spot weight loss.
By this we mean you can’t determine where you will lose fat based on the type of exercise you do. We can’t predict where it goes on so why on earth would we be able to take it off where we choose. Your genetics will determine both of these factors. For example, we know that women are predisposed to carrying any extra weight on the hips and buttocks first and for men we carry it around our midsection. Any of those programs you see online telling you they will “shred your abs for summer” or “banish flabby arms for good” are selling you a bunch of lies based on insecurities. It’s very effective marketing.
You may improve the muscle in that are and it might “feel” better. But any changes in body composition are going to be purely through calorie differences and genetics. Thanks mum and dad. As a general guide, the first place you notice weight going on, will be the last place you lose it from.