Old wives tales. They plague every aspect of our life, and fitness and exercise is no exception. Separating truth from fiction when it comes to your health is super important to make sure you are not only getting the best from your workout but also to ensure you don’t injure yourself.
Fitness myth #1: Stretch before you exercise
Research has found that not only does this have a marginal impact in the reduction of post workout soreness, but stretching before exercise can lead to reduced flexibility during your workout which means you won’t be able to go jump as high or run as fast as you could. The best thing to do before exercise is a dynamic warm-up. This includes gentle running on the spot combined with dynamic squats and other gentle movements that will warm your muscles up and get them ready to perform at their peak.
Fitness myth #2: Everyone gets fitter at the same speed
Research from the US has found that the rate at which your body responds to exercise has a genetic component. So some people will have to work out harder than others. The good news is that if you work out regularly, your muscles will remember. It’s called “muscle memory”, so if you need to take a few weeks off it quicker to get back to that level of fitness than the first time. The important thing is to persevere.
Fitness myth #3: A hot bath soothes after a tough workout
Muscle pain is cause by inflammation and the best thing for inflammation is… cold water! So the hot bath might make you feel amazing but its not going to improve your recovery.
Fitness myth #4: Any trainers will do
Taking care of your feet is super important as it is one of the main areas of balance in your body along with your hips. This is not to say you have to wear expensive trainers, it means that you should ensure that your trainers are properly fitted to your feet AND the exercise you plan to do in them. So go into a specialist shop and ensure someone who is qualified fits you with the right shoe.
Fitness myth #5: Feeling comfortable when you workout has no impact on your motivation to continue training
Research has found that 87% of women feel more motivated to continue on a workout routine when they feel comfortable and confident in what they are wearing. Wearing workout pants that stay up and sports tops that don’t ride up your body continually have a huge impact on your ability to focus on exercise and putting in your max.
Fitness myth #6: Cardio before weights
This is completely incorrect. Research has found that weight training before a cardio session can lead to a 10% increase in fat burning. The reason is that lifting weights generates hormones that help release fat from body stores. Total winner! It’s yet another example for why it is so important to do weight/resistance training.
Fitness myth #7: Only cardiovascular exercise benefits your heart
Any form of exercise where your heart rate increases (i.e. your blood circulation increases) helps your heart. Research has found that simply doing resistance training for 30 minutes a week can reduce heart disease risk by up to 23%. If you are exercising solely for benefits to your heart, consult a specialist as there are optimal techniques to ensure you get the best results.
Fitness myth #8: Walking, jogging or running a kilometre burns the same amount of kilojoules
Jogging and running use different muscle groups in your body so running a kilometre can burn up to an additional 40% of kilojoules. If you aren’t great with running try and build in short jogging intervals to maximise kilojoule burn.
Fitness myth #9: The best thing to eat after a workout is protein
This is true for men, but not true for women. This is not to say you can eat whatever you like, but if you would prefer an apple to an egg white, go for it.
Fitness myth #10: When you are fit you can eat whatever you like and stay healthy
This is one of the biggest myths of all. Although eating healthily is about ensuring you intake the right amount of kilojoules to stay at an optimum body weight, fatty and sugary foods also do damage to the inside of your body. So you may have chiselled abs but your arteries may be clogged. Always ensure you reduce trans-saturated fats and that you are getting enough greens, fibre, lean proteins and water into your diet. This doesn’t mean you can never have some pork crackling, but everything in moderation.