We all know that physical fitness is important. The benefits are plentiful, including the potential for lowering your risk of a vast number of diseases. Physical exercise can affect not only cardiovascular health, blood sugar, and blood pressure—it can also impact our mood and mental well-being in a positive way, according to the National Institutes of Health.
When approaching your personal fitness routine, it's often difficult to know where to start or even what to do. The waters are a bit muddied by an influx of fitness myths when it comes to the hows and whys of designing an exercise routine. Vague information, old wives' tales, and stale advice can lead to a potentially dangerous workout regimen. In order to accomplish your health goals, brief yourself on the common fitness myths that have set up shop in the collective consciousness—and the truths that debunk them.
Myth 1: The longer your individual exercise routine is, the more it counts.
Fact: According to the World Health Organization (WHO), you can spread out shorter exercise routines throughout the week. Each physical activity should last for at least ten minutes. The WHO says that each week, adults between the ages of eighteen and sixty-four should engage in about 150 minutes total of moderate aerobic activity or seventy-five minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise.
Adding more minutes to your weekly routine can bring enhanced health benefits, but that doesn't mean you need to spend hours on the treadmill all at once. Split up your moderate exercise bouts over the course of the week.
Myth 2: Stretching before exercise will prevent injury.
Fact: A study in the Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine states that stretching before exercise doesn't necessarily prevent injury. In fact, some studies have associated stretching before exercising with an increased risk of injury.
Myth 3: Women who practice weight training bulk up and become heavy.
Fact: According to a study published in the journal The Physician and Sportsmedicine, women who lift weights or perform other strength-training exercises lose body fat and gain lean muscle mass. This may lead to a slight increase in weight since muscles weigh more than fat, but it does not mean that women who want to appear leaner should avoid weight training.
Myth 4: Women shouldn't do the same strength training exercises that men do.
Fact: Women benefit just as much from strength training as men, according to The Physician and Sportsmedicine study. Strength training can prevent osteoporosis, increase lean body mass, and raise metabolic rate. There's no evidence that women are more likely to be injured during strength training than men, either.
Myth 5: Walking doesn't count as exercise.
Fact: The Mayo Clinic explains that an activity as simple as walking can help you achieve your health goals. Walking briskly on a regular basis can help you maintain a healthy weight, improve your balance, and prevent certain health conditions, such as type 2 diabetes.
Myth 6: Exercising properly requires going to the gym or using expensive equipment.
Fact: There are plenty of at-home workouts you can do with absolutely no equipment needed. These can target all your major muscle groups, from your arms to your abs.
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Why It's Good
Knowing the facts behind common fitness myths helps you stay educated on the best ways to exercise, enhancing the effectiveness and safety of your workout routine.