9 Fitness Myths We Still Believe

Exercise is something we don’t do enough or know enough about, and it shows in the number of misleading fitness myths we still subscribe to today. Many fitness myths stem from bad science, questionable sources, and outdated information that is further perpetuated by word of mouth. Trying to debunk such longstanding myths is no piece of cake, but considering the nation’s growing obesity problem (currently 36% of the American population is obese), we need the myths to go away and we need to get back in the gym. Check out these nine fitness myths we still believe:

  1. Always stretch before exercising:

    Stretching is one of the most misunderstood parts of fitness. From a young age, we are told to stretch before working out to get our blood flowing and to prevent injury. But, fitness experts say there is little evidence that shows static stretching before a workout prevents injury, and may actually be more harmful than good. Static stretches, like touching your toes, causes your muscles to contract and tighten, which may lead to an injury. Experts recommend doing a light jog or sport-specific exercise before working out to increase the heart rate and blood flow, and reserve static stretching for post-workout or at the end of the day.

  2. Yoga/Pilates will make you long and lean:

    Yoga/Pilates will improve your balance, flexibility, breath work, and posture, but as for making you long and lean, well, that just doesn’t happen. The myth that yoga/Pilates will lengthen your muscles and transform your body shape is false. Even though your muscles are lengthened during a yoga/Pilates stretch, the opposing muscle is shortened and as soon as you release the stretch, your muscles return to their original length. All in all, yoga/Pilates is an excellent workout for improving flexibility, posture, and range of motion, but don’t expect it to reduce fat or completely transform your body type.

  3. Doing crunches will get rid of belly fat:

    No matter what people tell you, doing crunches alone will not get you a chiseled six-pack. Fitness experts will tell you again and again that abs are made in the kitchen and you need to lose the belly fat before you can truly see your abs. Doing crunches and abdominal exercises when you’re not eating right and monitoring your calorie intake is counter-productive. If you eat right and keep your body fat low, you’ll start to see the results of your hard work.

  4. Wearing weights during cardio helps you burn more fat:

    Wearing weights while you do cardio might seem like an effective way to burn more calories or strengthen your arms, but, in all actuality, adding weights can throw off your balance and lead to injury. Not to mention, hand weights and ankle straps are generally too light to make a big difference in your overall calorie burn. Instead of giving in to this popular cardio myth, you’re better off increasing the intensity of your cardio and focusing on your movements to make sure you’re using proper form.

  5. Weightlifting will make women look bulky:

    This one couldn’t be more wrong. First of all, women don’t produce anywhere near as much testosterone as men, so unless a woman has a hormone imbalance or uses steroids, she won’t bulk up like a man or a body builder. Lifting heavy weights will make a woman strong and toned, but not bulky. With that being said, not enough women incorporate strength training into their weekly workouts, and therefore miss out on major calorie-burning and muscle-toning opportunities.

  6. Eating small, frequent meals boosts your metabolism:

    Let it be known, there’s no definitive proof that eating small, frequent meals is the best way to increase your metabolism or shed pounds. Eating several small snacks throughout the day can curb hunger and prevent overeating at mealtime, but this kind of eating regimen is unlikely to make a big difference in your daily calorie intake or calorie burning rate. The best way to increase your basal metabolic rate is to build up your muscles because muscle burns more calories than fat.

  7. You need 8 glasses of water a day:

    The guideline that everyone should drink at least eight glasses of water per day is unfounded and quite misleading. The amount of water each person needs per day is not that cut and dry; it depends on a wide number of factors such as where you live, your activity level, your health, and if you’re pregnant or breast-feeding. Your individual water intake needs can also vary depending on what kinds of foods you eat and how much you sweat.

  8. If you can’t exercise for 30 straight minutes, don’t bother:

    Exercise is not an all-or-nothing concept. Yes, Americans are recommended to do a minimum of 30 minutes of exercise a day, but nowhere in that guideline does it say that you have to work out for 30 straight minutes or it is ineffective. You might find it easier to break up your workouts into 10-minute intervals throughout the day, or do longer, more vigorous activity fewer times a week. Remember, any amount or type of exercise is better than none.

  9. Only lift lighter weights with high reps if you want to tone:

    Many people mistakenly think that lifting heavier weights makes you bulky, and therefore opt for lighter weights with higher reps to tone. What they don’t know is that doing fewer repetitions with heavier weights can make your muscles even stronger and just as toned, if not more, than lifting lighter weights with more reps. Fitness experts agree that men and women can both benefit from doing resistance training with lighter weights and higher reps as well as heavier weights and lower reps.