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Ten Myths About Exercise

One of the longest and toughest battles in history was the Battle of the Bulge. The daily battle against bulging body forms is not less hard, if not as bloody. Many people are getting increasingly obese, and obesity is stepping in early nowadays.

Before, women used to lose their figure after their first or second baby. Men used to develop beer bellies or become obese due to inactivity. Nowadays, however, obesity develops at a young age, as young as 10 sometimes.

Increasingly, kids are taking to junk food and television dinners, and they rarely play in the evenings — unless it is computer games. As for today’s adults, both men and women lose their health and shape due to overwork.

The worst jobs are desk jobs, such as working in administrative, IT, and customer service positions. This has become a form of occupational hazard.

Do you know people can gain weight if they continuously miss on sleep? According to a University of Chicago research study by Eva Van Cauter and her team, which appeared in the medical journal, Annals of Internal Medicine, sleep deficiency causes a fall in secretion of a hormone called leptin and an increase in another called ghrelin.

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Leptin is responsible for telling the brain that a person is full and doesn’t need to eat. Ghrelin is the hormone responsible for triggering hunger. The decrease in leptin and increase in ghrelin together cause a person to crave food even when the body doesn’t really need it.

They also tell the body to store the extra calories eaten for later use. No wonder obesity starts early and is on the rise!

One of my cousins was stuck in an executive job that required her to be seated for over nine hours a day. She decided that the easiest way to lose weight was to skip breakfast and go jogging two kilometers on the beach early in the morning everyday.

As a result, she would end up eating a bigger lunch than she used to eat before she started her “lose weight” program. After a month of this, she not only gained weight but also stopped jogging because she decided exercise was useless!

Starving yourself or skipping a meal is neither practical nor sensible. Many people cringe at the thought of dieting and exercise.

This is either because they don’t understand what it means or because they take drastic measures when they decide to lose weight. Some fitness fiction like “no pain, no gain” still exist to this day.

In addition, there is a constant background of products that advertise losing weight on television, such as miraculous drinks for a slimmer body in 10 days and other similar outrageous product promises. People buy these due to a lot of popular misconceptions that are still widely prevalent.

Here are 10 of the common exercise myths as well as the not-so-commonly-known facts based on current exercise research.

Myth #1Diet

Like all the different results which one can get from exercising, weight gain or weight loss is due to many factors. These can range from food intake and dietary programs to genetics. Not all individuals will lose the same amount of weight on the same exercise program.

In fact, it is possible to be active and overweight! So if you are active and still overweight, don’t lose hope. Exercise being the only sure way to lose all the weight you want is a myth. While exercise alone cannot guarantee you ideal weight, regular physical activity is one of the most important factors in building up stamina and in the long term helps with reducing weight.

Myth #2

You Burn More Fat by Exercising Regularly at High Intensity

The most important aspect in exercise isn’t how fast or vigorous the workout is but rather how much calories are burned during an activity. While it is true that you burn more calories by running, walking, or stepping quickly, it is often not possible to sustain the pace of a high-intensity exercise routine. This is the reason why most people give up their fitness programs after eagerly joining the local gym. It is trying to do too much too fast. It is safer and more practical to exercise longer at a lower intensity, especially when you are starting out or returning to your exercise routine.

Myth #3

Exercise Is a Waste of Time If Not Done Regularly

This kind of thinking keeps people away from even starting an exercise routine or joining an exercise program. Research continues to show that a little exercise is better than no exercise at all. Therefore, if you missed some days of your exercise program, don’t give up but rather go back to it. So, exercise whenever you find the time, or try to do it by not using the usual gadgets. Go over to the television and try to manually change the channel each time instead of using the remote control. Walk over to the telephone instead of picking up the cordless phone. Don’t get into your car to visit your neighbor who lives down the street, take a refreshing walk instead.

Myth #4

Overweight People Are Unlikely to Benefit Much From Exercise

This myth discourages many obese people from ever getting into an exercise routine because there is way too much fat to get rid of. The truth is both men and women of all different sizes and weights can improve their fitness levels with modest increases in activity or exercise. Studies have repeatedly showed that obese people who participate in regular exercise programs have a lower risk of mortality than lazy individuals, irrespective of weight. (EuroAspire Study Group)

Myth #5

Yoga is an ancient Indian discipline. It is an excellent exercise system and has huge benefits due to its holistic nature. However, someasanas, or poses, are quite rigorous and demanding, both physically and mentally. As with any form of exercise, a qualified instructor and close supervision are essential for a safe and effective workout. It is true that yoga is a safe program but not without a yoga master. One can’t perform all the asanas just by watching the video instructions on the yoga DVD. Therefore, try not to undertake yoga on your own without supervision.

Myth #6

Only Gym Workouts Help Reduce Weight

Despite all the hype about the gadgets, trendy exercise facilities and routines, it isn’t true that you will lose weight only if you go to the gym. Research shows you lose weight if you perform an exercise routine consistently. For most people, home-based workouts are fine as they are easier to stick to, rather than a trip to the local gym. The keyword is “consistently.” The location is irrelevant.

Myth #7

Benefits of Mind-Body Programs Are Questionable

A research study by Dr. Michael Irwin published at Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, University of California, Los Angeles, shows that the health benefits of mind-body programs Tai Chi and Yoga continues to grow. Tai Chi, for example, has been shown to treat lower back pain. Yoga has been shown to cure asthma and other diseases. Both these routines result in improved flexibility, balance, co-ordination, posture, and strength. They can also reduce stress and promote weight loss.Diet

Myth #8

Water Fitness Programs Are Only for Older People or Those with Disabilities

A research published in American Fitnessmagazine shows that water fitness programs can be highly challenging and effective for both improving fitness and losing weight. Nowadays, even top athletes, such as Olympic gold medalist Carl Lewis, integrate water fitness programs in their training workouts.

Myth #9

Be Critical of Yourself

This isn’t just a myth but also a very bad idea. It is easy to get skeptical and critical if you don’t see immediate results in your exercise program. Weight loss varies from one individual to the other. Fitness experts all over the world are now saying that weight loss largely depends on one’s Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR) which is the rate at which the body burns calories while not exercising. RMR varies greatly from one person to another and depends on genetic factors. This is why some people lose the first few pounds quickly, then take a lot of time losing the rest while others take forever to lose the first pounds and then lose the rest quickly.

Some others experience weight loss at a steady rate. So when you are on an exercise routine, remember your goal is long term and the weight loss is mostly related to genetics. Don’t be critical of yourself if you don’t lose your weight immediately. Instead, be supportive of yourself and reassure yourself each time you’re doubtful. Hard work always pays the dividends in the long run and it is no different in exercise.

Myth #10

Most people treat themselves if they achieve a particular weight on the scales. According to IDEA Health and Fitness Association, this is the wrong way to go about rewarding yourself. Experts suggest instead of rewarding yourself for the pounds lost, it is important to reward yourself for the positive changes you make in your behavior. This reward system won’t only make you feel good about losing weight but will also help you continue to regularly exercise, even after you have reached the desired number on the scale.

Now that you have learnt the myths, what are you waiting for? Stop counting the calories and weighing yourself every couple of hours. Stop following the latest fad diet. Don’t buy one of those “lose weight without exercise” quick fix gadgets they advertise on television. Watch what you eat, sleep eight hours a day, and exercise everyday, at least a little each day.

This article is from Science’s archive and we’ve originally published it on an earlier date.