8 fit­ness myths busted!

We de­bunk the dodgy the­o­ries be­hind ‘no pain, no gain’ and other com­mon fit­ness fa­bles.

Weight Watchers Magazine (Australia) - - Contents -

our ex­er­cise ex­perts weigh in

Sweat­ing means you’re work­ing hard

“Sweat­ing is your body’s way of cool­ing it­self to main­tain its op­ti­mal tem­per­a­ture,” says ex­er­cise phys­i­ol­o­gist Neil Rus­sell. “An in­crease in body tem­per­a­ture can result from fac­tors in­clud­ing hot weather, ex­er­cise and in­fec­tion. Some peo­ple sweat a lot, ir­re­spec­tive of their fit­ness lev­els, so it isn’t a good in­di­ca­tor of how hard you’re work­ing.”

A bet­ter mea­sure of ef­fort is your tar­get heart rate, which for most peo­ple is be­tween 50 and 75 per cent of your max­i­mum heart rate. To work out your es­ti­mated max­i­mum heart rate, sub­tract your age from 220.

No pain means no gain

Fit­ness ex­perts say this myth can be one of the most dam­ag­ing. While a bit of mus­cle sore­ness is okay, pain is not a sign of a good work­out. “A bet­ter motto would be ‘no ef­fort, no gain’,” says Carly Ryan, an ac­cred­ited ex­er­cise phys­i­ol­o­gist at Ex­er­cise & Sports Science Aus­tralia. “It’s okay to feel some dis­com­fort be­cause your body is work­ing harder than it does at rest. But stop at any sharp pain or any­thing you haven’t ex­pe­ri­enced be­fore, and see some­one if it doesn’t im­prove.”

You need to work out for at least an hour to start burn­ing fat

Ac­tu­ally, all you need is a few min­utes. “Ben­e­fits can be ac­cu­mu­lated in as lit­tle as 10-minute blocks,” says Ryan. The Aus­tralian Depart­ment of Health rec­om­mends ‘ac­cu­mu­lat­ing’ 150 to 300 min­utes of mod­er­ate-in­ten­sity ex­er­cise, or 75 to 150 min­utes of vig­or­ous ex­er­cise (or an equiv­a­lent com­bi­na­tion), each week.

You can get sim­i­lar ben­e­fits do­ing a few min­utes of ex­er­cise a week, says Dr Michael Mosely. In his book, Fast Ex­er­cise, he writes that do­ing short bursts (20 sec­onds to a minute) of mod­er­ate-to-high-in­ten­sity ex­er­cise two or three times a week im­proves aer­o­bic fit­ness and re­duces body fat.

Run­ning is too hard on the knees af­ter 40

With each run­ning stride, the knee ab­sorbs up to eight times your body weight, so it’s hard to imag­ine it wouldn’t be dam­ag­ing over time. “How­ever, as long as the knee is healthy, run­ning can help pre­vent the joint from de­te­ri­o­rat­ing,” says Ryan.

A study at Bay­lor Col­lege of Medicine in the US found reg­u­lar run­ning at any age may help to pro­tect against os­teoarthri­tis, thanks in large part to it help­ing peo­ple main­tain a healthy weight.

As well as that, a 20-year study of el­derly run­ners at Stan­ford Univer­sity in the US re­vealed they had fewer dis­abil­i­ties, were ac­tive for longer and were half as likely as age­ing non-run­ners to die early deaths.

“If you’re new to run­ning, it’s im­por­tant to start slowly and fo­cus on your tech­nique,” Ryan adds. >

Lift­ing weights will make you bulk up

This can be true for men but not for women. “Firstly, to put on mus­cle bulk you have to do some se­ri­ous re­sis­tance train­ing. That’s why body­builders spend so much time lift­ing weights,” says Rus­sell. It’s all down to hor­mone lev­els. “Men have up to 20 times more testos­terone, which is an im­por­tant build­ing block for mus­cles,” says Ryan. “Women have a very small amount and it makes it very difficult for them to bulk up.” Lift­ing weights can help women re­duce body fat be­cause it in­creases mus­cle mass and boosts meta­bolic rate. That means your body will use more kilo­joules, even when you’re not ex­er­cis­ing.

You can tar­get where you lose fat from

Un­for­tu­nately, it’s phys­i­o­log­i­cally im­pos­si­ble to spot-treat a par­tic­u­lar area of fat with ex­er­cise.

“Your body will lose fat in a set pat­tern no mat­ter what ex­er­cises you do. This pat­tern is dif­fer­ent for ev­ery­one,” says Rus­sell.

Your fat-los­ing pat­tern usu­ally comes down to your genes and body type.

“Rather than fo­cus­ing on spot reduction you should fo­cus on grad­ual full-body re­sults,” says Rus­sell.

Do­ing 100 sit-ups a day will give you a flat tummy

While sit-ups are great for strength­en­ing your abs and lower back, Rus­sell says nu­tri­tion is the key to re­duc­ing fat around your stom­ach.

“High-in­ten­sity in­ter­val train­ing (HIIT) and re­sis­tance train­ing can max­imise the re­sults that your good nu­tri­tional plan pro­vides,” says Rus­sell. “It’s im­por­tant to op­ti­mise both nu­tri­tional and ex­er­cise pro­grams. If you’re hit­ting your ex­er­cise goals but your food in­take is ex­ces­sive, you may not achieve your de­sired weight-loss or body-com­po­si­tion goals.”

To man­age your weight, the Di­eti­tians As­so­ci­a­tion of Aus­tralia rec­om­mends eat­ing a va­ri­ety of foods in­clud­ing breads, ce­re­als, fruit and veg­eta­bles; mod­er­ate amounts of low-fat dairy and lean meat; and a small amount of healthy fats and oils. Limit take­away and deep-fried foods.

You should never eat a meal af­ter ex­er­cis­ing

“Your me­tab­o­lism can be slightly raised for an hour or so af­ter ex­er­cise and will con­tinue to burn kilo­joules, so it can ac­tu­ally be an ideal time to eat and help your body re­fuel,” says Ryan.

The body is also most ef­fec­tive at re­pair­ing mus­cle in the 60 to 90 min­utes af­ter ex­er­cise, ac­cord­ing to Sports Di­eti­tians Aus­tralia, so this can be the best time for ‘re­cov­ery nu­tri­tion’ such as qual­ity carbs to re­plen­ish the mus­cles’ fuel stores, lean pro­tein to as­sist in mus­cle re­pair and flu­ids to re­hy­drate. Sports Di­eti­tians Aus­tralia sug­gests a lean chicken and salad roll and small glass of skim milk for a re­cov­ery meal. #

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