Common Exercise Myths

Or The Excuses We Can’t Use Anymore

By Editorial Staff

Originally published in Body Sense magazine, Fall 2002.

Although old fitness fictions like “no pain, no gain” are fading fast, plenty of popular exercise misconceptions still exist. Following are some of the most common myths, as well as not-so-common facts based on current exercise research.

Myth: If You’re Not Going To Work Out Hard and Often, Exercise Is a Waste of Time.

In fact, this kind of thinking keeps a lot of people from maintaining or even starting an exercise program. Research continues to show that any exercise is better than none. For example, regular walking or gardening for as little as an hour a week has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease. Bottom line – move it, at least a little.

Myth: If You Exercise Long and Hard Enough, You Will Always Get the Results You Want.

In reality, genetics plays an important role in how our bodies respond to exercise. Your development of strength, speed and endurance may be very different from that of other people you know. Don’t be disheartened. A healthy body is beautiful, regardless of its shape. Bottom line – strive for health, not unrealistic goals.

Myth: Exercise Is One Sure Way to Lose All the Weight You Desire.

Weight gain or loss is impacted by many factors, including dietary intake, genetics and lifestyle. Still, even though exercise alone cannot guarantee your ideal weight, regular physical activity is one of the most important factors for successful long-term weight management. Bottom line — there is no miracle for weight loss; depend on balance and common sense instead.

Myth: If You Want to Lose Weight, Stay Away From Strength Training Because You Will Bulk Up.

Most exercise experts believe cardiovascular exercise and strength training are both valuable for maintaining a healthy weight. Strength training helps maintain muscle mass and decrease body fat and can provide a nice break from the rigors of cardiovascular workouts. Bottom line – muscle definition is a good thing.

Myth: Water Fitness Programs Are Primarily for Older Adults or Exercisers With Injuries.

Recent research has shown water fitness programs can be highly challenging and effective for both improving fitness and losing weight. Even top athletes integrate water fitness workouts into their training programs. Bottom line — don’t be afraid of the water.

Myth: The Health and Fitness Benefits of Mind-Body Exercise Like T’ai Chi and Yoga are Questionable.

There could be nothing further from the truth. In fact, research showing the benefits of these exercises continues to grow. T’ai chi, for example, has been shown to help treat low-back pain and fibromyalgia. Improved flexibility, balance, coordination, posture and strength are just some of the potential results of yoga. Stress will kill you; managing this nemesis through mind-body exercises should be part of any exercise routine. Bottom line — stretch body and mind.

Myth: Overweight People Are Unlikely to Benefit Much From Exercise.

Studies show obese people who participate in regular exercise programs have a lower risk of all-cause mortality than sedentary individuals, regardless of weight. Bottom line — fight for your life.

Myth: Home Workouts Are Fine, But Going to a Gym Is the Best Way to Get Fit.

Research has shown that some people find it easier to stick to a home-based fitness program. Bottom line – in spite of all the hype on trendy exercise programs and facilities, the best program for you is the one you will participate in consistently.