Exercise Myths and Truths

Just like Old Wives’ Tales that have been passed down through the generations, so have there been myths about exercise that have been handed down through the years. As knowledge increases, truths about exercise are revealed which put those myths to rest. However, some of us are still uncertain about what is myth and what is fact.

Over the years, the results of many studies have disproved some common exercise misconceptions. Below are among the myths that have been proven to be incorrect:

After being avid about working out, if I should ever stop exercising, my muscle will turn to fat. This is impossible! Muscle tissue and fat tissue are two entirely different types of tissue! The molecular structure of one is completely unlike the molecular structure of the other. So, if you stop exercising, your muscle will NOT turn into fat. Rather, it will simply atrophy and become smaller in size. However, if you’re burning fewer calories than you consume, there IS a chance that your body will store more fat, and you could gain weight.

It’s possible to “spot-reduce” body fat. You can choose just one area, such as the stomach or thighs, and do exercises that will reduce the fat in that particular area. This is a big misconception. You CANNOT lose fat in just one specific part of your body. Fat is lost only by burning more calories than you consume, and it is lost equally in all areas of your body.

Aerobic exercises are generally the best types of exercises for burning fat. You CAN do area-specific exercises to tone and strengthen the muscles in a certain area, however. These types of exercises help to improve overall fitness. But, they don’t have a direct impact on stored body fat.

Strength training will make a woman too muscular and appear less feminine and more masculine. First of all, bodybuilders, as a rule, are genetically predisposed for that sport. The female body typically does not produce enough testosterone necessary to build big, bulky muscles. Strength training will tone and strengthen the muscles in a woman’s body.

In fact, as a woman ages, she loses muscle mass and bone density. Strength training will increase her bone density and muscle mass, and will help lower her chances of developing osteoporosis. However, she will probably never look like a female bodybuilder. According to a study conducted by Miriam Nelson of the Jean Mayer U.S. Department of Agriculture Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University in Boston, to be a female bodybuilder, a woman would have to endure extreme training habits that most strength-training programs do not endorse.

The only way to burn calories is through cardiovascular exercise. While it is true that cardiovascular workouts (i.e. aerobic dance or jogging) provide the most efficient ways to burn calories, a person burns calories merely by existing. Also, the more muscle mass you have, the more calories your body will burn naturally. This is because muscle is an active tissue. However, just because you develop more muscle mass doesn’t mean that you should neglect your cardiovascular training. For best results, strive for a balanced workout regimen.

High-impact aerobics are the only way to lose the fat off my butt and thighs. Actually, the body burns fat more efficiently when you engage in low- to moderate-intensity activities over a longer period of time. High-impact aerobic workouts burn stored carbohydrate calories (muscle glycogen and blood glucose) rather than metabolizing fat for energy.

The body chooses to burn fat when the body is at rest. Although, the fat is burned at a not-so-high rate. Low- to moderate-intensity workouts (combined with resistance training which targets your butt and thighs, specifically) tend to be safer and an excellent method of achieving your goals, according to experts.

There are other exercise misconceptions floating around the gym and other places. When in doubt about what exercises would benefit you best and help you to achieve your fitness goals, ask a fitness professional. And, before beginning any exercise or diet program, be sure to consult your physician. What is safe for one individual may not be safe for another. (When I speak about what exercises and/or diets work best, I am speaking about what works best for the general population. There are always exceptions to the rule. I apologize for not pointing this out in my last article.)

Good luck on your weight-loss endeavors!