America’s fitness craze goes on and on. Evidence can be seen every day on streets and paths across the country. The runners, walkers, bikers, rollerbladers (and more!) are reaping the benefits of fitness. They’re out to improve their appearance, lose weight, and tone their muscles. But in our quest for fitness, we’re sometimes vulnerable to misinformation. It may come from companies trying to sell products or fitness gurus trying to sell us a new training method, piece of equipment, or special powder or vitamin.
1. In order for exercise to do you any good, you must work out every day for at least 45 minutes.
2. There is no such thing as too much exercise.
3. Weight lifting will increase the number of muscle fibers and thus improve strength and size of muscles.
4. No pain, no gain. If an exercise doesn’t cause you come discomfort, it probably isn’t doing you any good.
5. If you stop exercising, you should be able to maintain your present fitness level for about three months before a decrease in fitness occurs.
6. Having large muscles makes you muscle-bound and decreases your flexibility.
7. If a woman lifts weights, she will develop big muscles and look masculine.
8. Exercise increases the appetite, so if you exercise, you will eat more and gain weight.
9. Eating extra protein or taking protein supplements will help you build muscles faster.
10. Eating sugar in the form of candy or other sweets gives you quick energy for competition.
11. Because you lose salt when you perspire, you should take salt tablets to prevent fatigue when exercising in hot weather.
12. You should not drink water during a workout, because it can cause cramps.
13. The only way to replace potassium lost while working out is to drink sport drinks containing extra potassium instead of water.
14. To be of any value, aerobic exercise must increase your heart rate to between 90 percent to 100 percent of the maximum safe rate.
Scoring this test is easy, because there is no score. All the statements are false. Read on to find out the reasons. Understanding why is more important than proclaiming yourself an expert–or a novice.
1. Many years of research show that 20 to 30 minutes of exercise three times a week lowers the risk of premature death, particularly from heart disease. Daily activity is not necessary, although it is desirable.
2. Studies show that too much exercise may cause the release of hormones and chemicals that can weaken the immune system and may increase the chance that you could catch an infectious disease. In addition, too much exercise can result in injuries and fatigue.
3. Enlargement of muscles, due to exercise, is not caused by an increase in the number of muscle fibers. This number stays constant, except when injury occurs. Instead, the fibers you have increase in size and strength.
It Doesn’t Have to Hurt
4. It is a dangerous myth that exercise has to hurt to be of benefit. Pain is a sign of overuse and possible injury and should be heeded. Though it my not be necessary to stop exercise altogether when you experience pain, it is usually wise to decrease the intensity and length of workouts until healing can take place.
5. Your cardiovascular fitness level will begin to drop after only one week of inactivity. After three weeks it could drop as much as 50 percent. But even after weeks of inactivity, people who have exercised regularly all their lives are more fit than those who don’t exercise at all. (Missing a few days of aerobic workouts due to illness should have little effect on your fitness level.)
6. Although people who concentrate on strength and body building may run the risk of losing flexibility, it does not have to happen if the body builder incorporates static stretching exercises into his or her strength-building routine. Stretches should be held for 15 to 20 seconds. Without such stretching exercises, flexibility can be lose and the athlete is more prone to injury.
Women and Muscles
7. When women do strength-building activities, they do improve in strength but do not build bulky muscles like men. The reason is that they lack the male hormone testosterone, which is responsible for the increase in muscle size. If women wanted to develop bulky muscles, it would require an intense training program beyond what most women care to do.
8. Intense exercise can increase appetite, but moderate exercise programs have little effect on appetite. Exercising before you eat may actually decrease a personhs appetite.
9. Protein builds new cells, enzymes, and hormones. It is not as significant a source of calories or energy as fats or carbohydrates. Because protein is not a nutrient used for energy and is not stored in the body, eating extra protein is of no value. Once you have eaten enough, any excess is eliminated from the body.
10. When you consume sugar before exercise, it triggers the release of insulin. Insulin takes the sugar you have eaten out of the blood where you need it and puts it into storage. The drop in blood sugar level will actually hinder performance for up to an hour. Sports medicine experts recommend that instead of eating carbohydrate in the form and sugar, you have it in the form of starch, like pasta, to slow the release of insulin.
More Harm Than Good
11. Extra salt does more harm than good and will not prevent fatigue. Salt tablets are so concentrated they can actually draw water from the blood, causing nausea and cramping.
12. When you are thirsty, you should drink water at all times. In fact, many athletes go into competition low on water, which really hampers performance. As you lose fluid during exercise, it must be replaced or the body becomes dehydrated, and a strain is placed on the heart. Water is not a cause of cramps, but lack of water could be. Experts recommend six ounces of water after every five to 30 minutes of activity when exercising in hot weather.
13. Although sport drinks do contain extra potassium, they often cover the flavor of the potassium with excess sugar. Since sugar is not a good substance to consume before and during exercise, consider other sources of potassium, such as orange juice or bananas.
14. During aerobic exercise, you should achieve and maintain a target heart rate. This zone should be 60 percent to 75 percent of your maximum heart rate. Determine your target heart rate using this formula: Subtract your age from 220. Then multiply that total by both 60 percent and 75 percent. Your heart rate during exercise should stay between these two figures for the best aerobic benefits.
Now that we have a few facts straight, consider one more: Staying fit can not only improve and lengthen your life, it’s fun!