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5 Fitness Myths – Common Misconceptions and The Truth

Posted by Jill Derryberry on Mar 14, 2023 3:39:35 PM
Jill Derryberry
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5 Fitness Myths – Common Misconceptions and The Truth


Health, fitness, and wellness are popular topics. That is a wonderful thing, but unfortunately, it leads to an overwhelming amount of information available online, on tv, in magazines and especially social media. With so much stuff out there, it is sometimes difficult to tell what is true and what isn’t. It’s been a while since I’ve written about some of the common misconceptions when it comes to health and fitness. If you want to check out my last post about fitness myths, you can find it here.


MYTH #1: You should exercise every day.


This is a tricky one! You shouldn’t exercise intensely every day (and you don’t need to in order to see benefits). Current guidelines say, “To attain the most health benefits from physical activity, adults need at least 150 to 300 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, like brisk walking or fast dancing, each week. Adults also need muscle-strengthening activity, like lifting weights or doing push-ups, at least 2 days each week.”


How many days a week you work out depends on what kind of exercise you are doing. For strength training, muscle groups need a day to recover in between sessions. If you want to strength train every day, or on consecutive days, then it is best to break down your weight workouts into splits. This means you will use weights to work one part of your body one day and then work different muscles the next. For example, work your legs on Monday and then upper body on Tuesday. Or push muscles on one day then pull muscles on the next. For our muscles to get stronger, they need time (48 hours) after being worked to repair and heal. That rest time is what makes them stronger and helps to prevent injuries. Most studies show that working each muscle group 2-3 times a week is sufficient. If your workout is a less intense exercise like walking, it is safe to do every day.


For some, keeping a habit like exercise is easier if it is done every day. Then there is no question if you are going to do it today or tomorrow, you have time carved out for a workout each day. In this case it is important you plan your workouts so that each day isn’t an intense HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) session or working the same muscle groups with resistance. Overtraining is a real possibility if you overdo it. Excess fatigue and unusual muscle aches and pains are two possible signs of overtraining and that you need a break. Daily workouts should vary in intensity and type to help prevent overtraining and burnout. I like to alternate between cardio and strength days for my workouts. I also recommend one day a week of either complete rest, an easy yoga or stretch session or a low intensity walk.


MYTH #2: You can choose where on your body that you want to lose fat.


As a trainer, many of the people I work with want to do extra exercises for their abdominal muscles because they want to reduce the size of their waist or stomach. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. Abdominal exercises, like crunches and sit ups, target the abdominal muscles, not any fat that may be near them. The body loses fat from where it wants to lose fat first based on your genetics and other health factors (i.e., hormones). You can’t control where the fat loss happens and doesn’t happen. However, you can work to lose body fat overall by consuming fewer calories than you are burning. Strength training also helps because the more muscle you have, the more calories you burn even at rest.


Please note: This does not mean you shouldn’t do ab exercises! A strong core is important for many reasons including reduced lower back pain, improved posture, injury prevention.


MYTH #3: In order to lose weight, you must cut out all carbs.


Aren’t you glad this is a myth? You can eat carbohydrates (carbs) and lose weight. The key to weight loss is consuming fewer calories than you burn. It is beneficial to consume healthy foods that will keep you satisfied and fuller longer for your overall health and to help maintain a healthy weight. But many studies show that for weight loss, the type of diet (i.e. high protein vs. low-carb vs. low-fat) doesn’t really matter, it is the number of calories consumed. Some carbs should be eaten less and in moderation since they provide little nutritional value and cause your blood sugar to spike and then quickly crash causing you to become hungry again quickly and most likely to eat more. (Think white bread, pasta, or baked goods) Other carbs, sometimes called complex carbs, should be a bigger part of our diet because they are very nutritious and full of fiber that will keep us fuller longer and not cause a quick rise in blood sugar. (Like whole grains and vegetables) We need a mix of all three macronutrients (protein, carbs, and fats) to have a healthy diet.


This review found that there is no one size fits all weight loss program that works for everyone. Many of the diet plans out there will work if you stick with them. The key is finding the right one that you can live with. The bottom line, if people eat a diet composed mostly of healthy foods within their allotted calories, the ratio of carbohydrates, protein and fats may not matter as much as we’re led to believe.


MYTH #4: Squats are bad for your knees.


A basic squat is a great exercise that works several major muscle groups in the lower body including the glutes, hamstrings (back of the legs), and quads (front of the legs). It’s a functional movement which not only helps with strength we need for everyday activities, but it also improves mobility and stability. A squat done with proper form will strengthen your knees in that it will strengthen the muscles that support the knees thus reducing potential knee injury and pain.


If you already have a knee injury or pain from something like arthritis in your knee, it is best to talk with your doctor before starting a new exercise routine that involves squats. Since performing a squat involves sinking down into the knees, it may be painful for some people with existing issues in this area. Working with a personal trainer can be helpful in this situation because they can give you tips on form and modifications to reduce any pain.


MYTH #5: Machines are better than free weights. Or vice versa – Free weights are better than machines.


This is another tricky one! In fact I wrote an entire post about this subject. This is a myth – there is not one that is better than the other and both are good. There are advantages and disadvantages to both types of weight training. It boils down to your fitness level, your fitness goals and what you have available.


The biggest factor to increase your strength is to progressively increase the amount of weight resistance applied to your muscles, no matter the equipment that is being used. Some great workout routines will utilize both free weights and weight machines. Whichever method you will do regularly and works with your current fitness level is the best for you.


Don’t believe everything you read or see on social media. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Do your research and check the credentials of the person or organization where the information is coming from. Try not to let the overwhelming amount of information about health and fitness keep you from starting or keeping an exercise routine. Stick to the basics and ask for help from a trained professional if you need it!




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