Exercise is supposed to really good for you. But some people have some mistaken ideas about what it can – and can’t – do. Here is a list of some common exercise myths, and the facts associated with them.
You won’t be getting any benefit unless you exercise hard enough to be out of breath. Actually, you should still be able to talk while you’re exercising. If you can’t talk, you’re overdoing it, and should ease off.
Using light weights on your arms or legs will make exercise more effective. These small weights are really not enough. If you want to get more out of exercise, you can add weight training, but that’s a different matter.
Building muscles will make you less flexible. You can stay flexible, or even improve your flexibility, if you take your muscles through the full range of their motion. It’s only if you don’t do this that you’ll lose flexibility.
If you don’t keep exercising, your muscles will turn to fat. Muscles and fat are two different kinds of tissue. They can’t change from one to the other.
Sport drinks keep you healthier by replenishing nutrients lost during exercise. Sport drinks contain mostly salt and sugar, and can be helpful if you’re doing a lot of really intense exercise – like running a marathon. But most people don’t need them. The average exercise routine doesn’t cause you to lose enough salt (through sweating) or carbohydrates to need a sport drink. Experts say water will work just fine for these kinds of workouts.
Women don’t have as much endurance as men because they’re not as muscular. Actually, women have just as much endurance as men, and they recover faster from intense exercise as well. They don’t have as much muscle mass, but that’s because they don’t have as much testosterone.
Myths about exercise and your health
Strength training is designed to build muscle, so it won’t help with weight loss or keep your heart healthy. To lose weight, you need to burn calories, and strength training does do that. It also can help lower LDL – the “bad” cholesterol. Combined with aerobic exercise, which lowers HDL cholesterol, strength training can be very good for your heart.
The more strenuously you exercise, the healthier you’ll be. Actually, exercising at a moderate level is best. It can reduce your risk of heart disease and diabetes Type 2 and lower your stress and anxiety levels and your blood pressure. Plus, strenuous exercise, especially when you’re starting a new exercise program, can be more hazardous than helpful; consider the sedentary people who have heart attacks while shoveling snow.
Exercise won’t improve your health if you can’t do it regularly. Of course it’s best to exercise on a regular basis. But even one session can help you be healthier – as long as you don’t overdo things.
You can be too old or too sick to exercise; in other words, exercise isn’t good for the elderly or for those with chronic diseases. A study at Tufts University with nursing home residents aged 72 to 98 showed that exercise had some very positive benefits. The participants were stronger, could walk faster, and had more endurance. Certainly people who are very ill might not be able to be very active. But those with chronic conditions might actually see a lessening of their symptoms if they exercise. For example, exercise can help people with arthritis be more flexible and have less pain.
Exercise can help a lot of people in a lot of different situations. But it’s always good to know what works and what doesn’t – for you. If you’re at all uncertain about whether exercise would help or hurt you, check with your doctor before starting any activity program. That way you’ll be more likely to find a program that is not only safe but also effective.