BUSTED! 5 Myths about exercise that everyone falls for.

  1. Exercise always makes you happy

In many cases this is true, however, there are some important situations 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’re a person living in a bigger body, it’s important to understand that you’re more likely to get a positive boost from exercise if it’s the right type for you. That means that 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 that the more you move and are physically active, the more likely you are to get those ‘feel good’ hormones flowing.

2. Running is bad for your joints

This is massive. Time after time, I see people showing up at my gym saying they’ve got ‘bad knees’ from running for so many years, or from playing football when they were younger. The reason this myth got started is because people from these recreations were showing up to doctors with knee problems, so they thought their recreation must be the problem. It seems logical, right? Here’s what actually happened. After researching these populations over many years, they realised these people were heading to their doctors because their daily activities were being limited. They were finding it more difficult to run, jump or play, and thus 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 from going on that holiday, playing with your kids or taking up a sport again. We are now discovering that people who are regularly active actually experience less degeneration AND a slower rate of joint degeneration, than those who are inactive.

3. Lifting weights makes women bulky

There are essentially 3 things that will make anyone put on muscle mass — and all are common to both men and women.

First, we’ve got mechanical stimulus. By this, we mean a physical load on the muscle. This is the weight lifting part. The important thing here is knowing that you have to get to a point of fatigue to stimulate muscle growth. That is, the point at which you could only lift the weight 1-2 more times (at most). This creates the signals for the muscle to build.

Second, it’s about your 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 and 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 to fuel the process. If you’re lifting weights and not increasing your intake, odds are you won’t put on muscle.

Third, and probably most importantly, is testosterone. This is the male androgenic hormone 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.

4. Cardio means treadmills

If your heart rate is increased, you’re 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, definitely pursue those activities. The best thing there is that you’ll be able to accurately measure and track your progress. Did you swim more laps? Faster 5k? If that’s not your priority, I’d 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!

5. You can’t spot weight loss.

By this, we mean that 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 extra weight on the hips and buttocks first, while for men we carry it around our midsection. Any of those programs you see online telling you they’ll ‘shred your abs for summer’ or ‘banish flabby arms for good’ are selling you a bunch of lies based on your own insecurities. It’s very effective marketing.

You may improve the muscle in that arm and it might ‘feel’ better, but any changes in body composition are purely going to be 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.

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