Fitness Fact or Fiction? Debunking Some Common Myths About Exercise

Debunking Some Common Fitness Myths

It’s a little difficult choosing only a few of the most common fitness myths out there, because there are so many. You see them everywhere, especially online where a lot of pseudo-sciencey stuff exists. Because fitness, health, and diet stuff is always changing, you’ll get a lot of outdated information as well as just plain-wrong, not-based-in-science info. And most of it is also a result of the fact that this is an industry that makes a lot of money convincing people that they need X product to change their lives forever, so clearly you are doing something wrong or missing some magical product that will fix everything for you. That’s a whole other topic for another blog. 

But let’s talk about some very common myths about fitness that I see a lot of. 

I can eat anything I want, as long as I exercise:
Technically true. You can eat anything you want, no one’s really stopping you. The myth that exercise can cancel out bad eating is mostly based on CICO (calories in, calories out).  But there are a few other factors here. First, not all calories are equal. So depending on what you eat, you might not feel like you’re properly fueled up and energetic, for example. Or you might find that you’re struggling to shed weight because your diet is high in sugar. The other thing to consider is that diet affects more than your weight, which is why some people count macros. And don’t forget that eating healthy means reducing the risk of heart disease and diabetes. 

I can lose fat in a targeted area (like my arms, belly, or thighs):
You can burn overall fat, but it’s not possible to target a certain area. Now, some people naturally lose fat (and gain it) in specific areas first. That’s mostly a genetic thing, so again, it’s not something you have control over. If you want to lose fat in a certain place, you’ll have to work on losing weight overall. 

Always stretch before working out:
You don’t want to do static stretches before working out, but instead, save it for after the workout. What you DO want to do is warm up properly. This includes doing dynamic stretches, which is “movement-based stretching,” and can get your heart rate up, warm up your muscles in preparation for working out, and loosen you up for a wider range of motion. Studies have shown that static stretches (which work on your flexibility) before working out can weaken your muscles or even risk injury, especially for those who are not very flexible.  

Muscle turns into fat if you stop exercising:
That’s just not how science works. Think of fat and muscles as two separate things in your body. When you exercise regularly, your muscles get bigger. When you stop exercising, those muscles might atrophy and become smaller, but they don’t turn into fat. So for example, going from exercising regularly to a sedentary lifestyle with no exercise can easily result in decreased muscle and fat gain if you don’t adjust your diet accordingly, since you’re no longer burning as many calories. 

The science of fitness can be overwhelming and confusing, and there’s a lot of conflicting information and a lot of “a recent study shows that this one thing you believed your whole life is completely wrong.” We all have enough on our plates trying to worry about eating right, making time to exercise, doing some sort of mobility stuff so our bodies don’t break, also do some self-care so that our mental health doesn’t tank, and then getting “enough sleep,” all while working and trying to have fulfilling lives. So hopefully clearing up a few common myths will help you work smarter.  


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