A lot of you might have received advice from friends, colleagues, and gym buddies about supposed ‘facts’ concerning fitness and exercise. ‘Cut out all fats from your diet’, ‘Cardio doesn’t help with anything’, ‘Eat loads of proteins’, ‘Warm up only if you’re not used to daily workouts’ and more. While your friends want the best for you, you need to learn the science behind these to get the most out of your workouts.
With that in mind, we decided to look at some of the most common fitness myths in more detail. Whether it is worries about health or not knowing the best exercises for your individual goals, the vast amount of information on fitness dos and don’ts can often get quite confusing, even for the most experienced fitness enthusiasts. However, don’t fret! Our Fitness Expert, Rahul Basak, has put together a list of the most common misconceptions floating around to help you find what is helpful for you.
Myth #1 – Exercising regularly makes up for a bad diet
Essentially, weight loss happens when you create a calorie deficit—burning more calories than you intake. Meaning, while exercise is an essential part of weight loss, you can quickly nullify your efforts by eating foods high in calories and low in nutrients and minerals, such as potato chips, hamburgers, processed foods, and more.
For instance, it takes nearly 30 minutes of moderate to high-intensity workout for an average person to burn between 250 to 300 calories. However, consuming a greasy cheeseburger packed with 300-350 calories post your workout will quickly nullify all your efforts.
Eat nutrient-high content like essential vitamins, lean proteins, minerals, fibers, complex carbohydrates, etc to elevate your diet and get the best benefits out of your workouts. Some great sources of these include:
- Lean meat, eggs, sprouts, milk
- Dal, chana, beans
- Apple, banana and other seasonal fruits
- Green leafy and non-starchy vegetables – spinach, cabbage, broccoli
- Whole grains – oats, quinoa, brown rice, millet
- Nuts and seeds – almonds, peanuts, pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, chia seeds
Myth #2 – Exercising Counteracts the Effects of Sitting at the Desk All Day
When you live a relatively sedentary lifestyle, you spend less energy than you do when you stand or move all day. Studies prove that our metabolism slows down 90% after just 30 minutes of sitting. Sitting for long periods also causes an array of health concerns, including
- Increased blood pressure
- High blood sugar
- Excess body fat around the waist
- Abnormal cholesterol levels
- Back, neck and sciatica pain
Now, the key to sitting all day long isn’t to workout for a longer time. It’s crucial to ensure that you take breaks all through the day for this. Doing so is much easier than you might anticipate.
- Take a break from sitting every 30 minutes to stand up and stretch. You could also just go on a 5-minute walk.
- Stand up or walk when attending calls, reading a book or watching television.
- If your 9-5 job includes sitting at the desk all day, opt for a standing desk instead.
- While at your workplace, walk up to your colleagues for a meeting instead of phoning them.
Myth #3 – Elderly People Should Stick to Low-Impact Cardio Workouts
Cardiovascular exercises are great for improved heart health. However, equally important are weight training and high-impact cardio for your overall health.
After the age of 30, aging results in the reduction of your muscle mass by 3-5% every decade. This reduction happens much faster after the age of 60. Similarly, your bone density also starts declining post the age of 30 and much faster after 50.
This puts older people at the risk of injury, hindering their ability to perform daily activities, thereby reducing their quality of life. The great way around this issue is to arrest this decline or increase your muscle mass and bone density, for which weight training and high-impact cardio are necessary.
Though people with underlying health issues, such as osteoporosis, arthritis, and lower back pain, can avoid high-impact cardio, they can definitely benefit from incorporating weight training into their workout routine.
Myth #4 – For Best Results You Should Exercise for At Least an Hour
Any amount of physical activity is better than no activity at all. Even five minutes of physical activity can result in better health outcomes than no activity at all. You can indulge in 15 to 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity per day, five days a week. Some great options include:
- 15-20 mins walking
- 20-mins dance session
- 20-mins HIIT workout
- 20-30 mins yoga
While indulging in structured exercise programs is beneficial, you can definitely opt for activities like taking the stairs, walking or cycling instead of taking public transport, and playing a sport with kids if the former doesn’t sound practical. If you can’t complete the entire session in a single go, you could also break down your physical activities into short periods and accumulate the same over the day or week.
Myth #5 – If You Look Shredded, You are Fit
The acceptable fat percentage for an adult male is between 14-25% and for females is between 21 and 31%. Athletes tend to have a slightly lesser fat percentage. Nevertheless, your ideal healthy fat percentage can vary depending on your genetics, age and current health condition.
For you to look shredded and your six-packs to be visible, the fat percentage should be between 8 to 13% for males and 14 to 24% for females. This means you can be in a healthy fat percentage zone and still not have visible six-pack abs.
Visible six-pack abs or looking shredded doesn’t necessarily mean you have a strong core. A strong core goes much beyond just the superficial abdominal muscle that makes up the six-packs. Instead, it involves deeper and stronger muscles both in the front and the backside of your body. The key here is to combine weight training and cardiovascular exercises with a healthy and nutrient-dense diet as well as give your body proper rest and recovery time.
When it comes to working out or following a diet plan, never listen to the myths. Instead, speak to your doctor or an expert fitness trainer and be sure you are getting reliable information and facts.
Let go of old and outdated information that doesn’t empower you to be better than your best. By ensuring you have good information, you will be able to quickly achieve a healthy and happy lifestyle while efficiently achieving your fitness goals.