With so much health and fitness information coming from so many different sources, it's no wonder people are confused. What does it take to get fit? Will crunches get rid of my spare tire? What's the best way to lose weight? These are the types of questions ACE-certified fitness professionals hear on a daily basis. More than 1,500 ACE-certified professionals responded to our request for the most pervasive myths and misconceptions about exercise. Here are their top six answers.
DEBUNKING FITNESS MYTHS
- WOMEN WHO LIFT WEIGHTS WILL GET BULKY MUSCLES
There are more myths and misconceptions about strength training than any other area of fitness. Research continues to uncover more reasons why working out with weights is good for you. Our genetic makeup determines what types of muscle fibers we have and where they are distributed. It determines our ratio of testosterone to estrogen and where we store body fat. And it also determines our body type.
- SPOT REDUCING IS POSSIBLE
In an effort to tone our bodies we neglect the most important factor: fat. When we do exercises that elevate the heart rate, such as bicycling, walking or aerobic dance, the body will draw upon its fat stores for energy. Eating a low-fat diet and following an exercise program that combines aerobic activity and strength training is the key to changing the shape of your body. In addition to burning calories through aerobic activity, strength training will increase the amount of muscle, which burns even more calories.
- NO PAIN, NO GAIN
When it comes to exercise we determine what we can or cannot do, and how hard we push ourselves. Some follow the all-or-nothing principle, believing that if exercise is good for you it has to be hard, even painful. Then along came last year's Surgeon General's Report on Physical Activity, detailing the benefits of moderate physical activity. It was then that people began questioning exactly what ‘moderate activity’ means. You don't have to put out a lot to gain a lot. Physical activity need not be overly strenuous to be beneficial.
- EXERCISE REQUIRES A HEFTY TIME COMMITMENT
What's the best time for you to exercise? Anytime. A healthy exercise program includes aerobic activity, muscular strengthening and flexibility exercise. You can start your exercise program without investing in any elaborate equipment. Do something that keeps you moving, ideally, for 20 minutes. If you don't have that much time, two 10-minute aerobic activity sessions will benefit you almost as much. Aerobic exercise is definitely good for cardiovascular health and fitness — and can help you lose weight.
- IF YOU EXERCISE, YOU CAN EAT WHATEVER YOU WANT
It's not just cutting calories. Eating less or cutting back on fat in your diet won't keep the weight off. You need to strike a balance between the number of calories you consume and the number you burn. And the only way to do that is to exercise. By exercising, you can lose weight while you eat more calories than if you simply went on a diet. Regular physical activity is more effective at keeping the weight off in the long run than any diet. One choice is aerobic exercise. With aerobic exercise, you can lose weight without drastically reducing the calories you consume or sacrificing important nutritional needs.
- THERE'S A MAGIC BULLET (QUICK FIX) OUT THERE SOMEWHERE
Americans seem to be married to the idea that in order to achieve our goals, we must consume special dietary products in amounts not normally found in a typical diet. But while the initial promises offered by makers of these supplements are often enchanting, the actual benefits to the consumer don't necessarily live up to the advertising. The best defense against becoming a victim of a nutritional scam is education. With this formidable weapon you will be well on your way toward better health.