While there is plenty of good fitness advice out there, not all of it is entirely true. In fact, you may have believed a few things about exercise and working out for years without ever realizing that these things were, in fact, fitness myths. Read on to learn some of the most common fitness myths and find out the real truth about how to get in shape.
1. Crunches are the only way to get rid of excess belly fat.
This commonly held belief causes many people to do dozens of crunches a day and become increasingly frustrated when they don't see results. The belly tends to be a problem area for many when it comes to excess fat. Unfortunately, doing crunches alone won't melt that fat away. Instead, it just tones up the abdominal muscles lying underneath the fat. While burning calories doing crunches will help a little bit, you also need to eat a healthy diet and include some cardio in your workout to truly get rid of that extra weight. Once you do shed the pounds, you'll find that crunches will make your midsection look even tighter and toned.
2. Swimming is a great way to lose weight.
Swimming is, by all means, an excellent workout. It's a great way to tone your muscles since the water provides so much resistance. In addition, your lung capacity will increase and it's easy on your joints. However, the water is also very buoyant, so you don't have to push as hard as you would if you were jogging or running, which would burn more calories. Keep swimming in your fitness routine for its benefits, but don't rely on it entirely to help you shed pounds.
3. Yoga helps to alleviate back pain.
This fitness myth does have some truth to it. Because yoga stretches the muscles so well, it does help with many types of back pain that are muscle-related. However, there are other varieties of back pain that won't be helped by yoga. For instance, a ruptured disc could be worsened by doing the complex stretching movements involved in this workout. Not all muscle-related pain is safe either; if you suffer from a torn muscle in your back, you need rest to recover, not yoga.
4. No pain, no gain.
Some people believe that unless you push yourself to the point of physical discomfort during a workout, you won't see any results. Fortunately, this simply isn't true. While some workouts, such as weightlifting, may be okay with a certain amount of physical discomfort, most exercises should not require that you push yourself to the point of pain. In fact, if you do feel pain while doing any workout, you should stop and rest to see if the pain subsides. If it doesn't subside or gets worse, be sure to see a doctor. Trying to push through the pain could cause you to seriously injure yourself.
5. Walking isn't as effective as running.
If you're not a big fan of running, don't worry - you can actually burn the same amount of calories as a runner as long as you're willing to exercise for a longer period of time. Studies have found that when walkers and runners cover the same distance, they burn around the same amount of calories. It simply takes longer for the walker to reach that distance. Just be sure that while you walk you keep a brisk, steady pace instead of taking a leisurely stroll.
6. Exercise increases your appetite.
Many people justify eating more by working out. The truth is that, unless you are exercising for endurance for two hours a day or more, you shouldn't need to eat more than the average person. As long as you are eating healthy foods, you should have plenty of energy to complete a standard workout routine on any given day.
7. Aerobic exercise boosts your metabolism for hours after your workout.
Unfortunately, this is only true to a very small extent. Yes, your metabolism is higher after you finish an aerobic workout. However, the amount is so insignificant that it only burns about 20 extra calories for the day. Don't think that just because you jogged for 20 minutes that you are burning up all the calories you consume for the rest of the day - instead, focus on burning up calories during your actual workout and eating healthy throughout the day.
Remember that certain people may have their own fitness and exercise needs depending on their physical condition and health. Talk to your doctor before starting up a new workout regimen, especially if you plan to try exercises you've never done before. Another good idea is to see a fitness specialist or personal trainer who can help you set an exercise routine that is right for you.