Everything on the Internet is true. Right? Oh..wait… 🙂

The advent of the Internet has helped the human race progress in business, media, education, etc. In addition, information is easy to find; a simple Google search can satisfy any curiosity. That being said, the internet is not the only source; magazines, infomercials, books, and celebrity endorsements all appear to be viable means of obtaining information, especially when it comes to exercise advice or facts. Having a variety of sources may seem helpful; in reality, it makes it difficult to determine the quality of information a given source offers. It is also difficult to differentiate between fact and fiction. Today, I thought I would focus on busting some common (and ridiculous) myths associated with activity and exercise.

1. “Weight lifting makes women bulky.” One of the key ingredients for muscle growth is testosterone – a hormone that is found in high concentrations in men, not women. Some individuals are predisposed to developing significant muscle tone; however, this is not true for everyone. Women simply lack the chemical make-up required to “bulk up”. So please, do not be afraid to lift some weight! Engaging in weight-bearing exercise can improve bone density – critical for the aging woman.

2. “If you stop lifting weights, muscle will turn to fat.” Just as lead cannot be transformed into gold, muscle cannot be transformed into fat. They are separate tissues that differ in their function, metabolism, and structure. If a person stops lifting weights, muscle will atrophy (weaken and decrease in size), but it will not turn into fat. We can be thankful for this! 🙂

3. “Work out in the “fat burning zone” to lose weight. This is one I like to consider a “half-truth”. It is true – there is what fitness pros consider to be a “fat burning zone”. This is the point at which lipids are being used as the primary source of fuel. Lipids are generally utilized at rest (including sleep) and during very low-intensity activities. Now, that part might be true, however, at lower intensity activities fewer calories are burned. In fact, the amount of calories burned in this “zone” are too low to initiate (or maintain) weight loss. If the goal is weight loss, a higher intensity activity is desirable. The overall goal should be to increase the heart rate and burn off a significant number of calories.

4. “Abdominal crunches result in a flat stomach.” Abdominal crunches are a great way to increase muscular endurance and strength. However, abdominal crunches will not necessarily flatten the stomach. In order to flatten the stomach, fat reduction must occur. This is achieved through a combination of cardiovascular activity, resistance training (to increase resting metabolic rate and muscle strength), and core (abs and lower back) training.

5. “If you exercise, you can eat whatever you want.” Ahhh, don’t we wish? Unfortunately, this is a myth…a big one. Exercising does allow flexibility in the diet in terms of caloric intake levels; however, it does not issue a person a license for eating recklessly. As long as foods are eaten in moderation (a slice of cheesecake or a cookie here and there), a fun and flexible diet is possible! Also, keep in mind that the body needs quality fuel to meet the demands we place upon it. Eating an unbalanced diet – either low or high in calories – will have a detrimental impact.

It is easy to find information, but it is not so easy to find truthful information. Remember to check the source and question the science behind it. As a general rule, if it sounds too good to be true, it likely is! Here are a few questions to ask when evaluating the credibility of the information you find.

The Who:

Who wrote the information?

Who provided the facts? Where did they come from?

Did someone pay for it? Who? Was it someone who would benefit?

The When:

Is it current? When was it written or updated?

The How:

Does the information seem reasonable based on what you’ve read or know?

Bottom line – when in doubt, ask a verified and qualified professional to validate the information.

Please feel free to comment if you have other questions beyond the ones addressed in this post.

Until next time…Meet you at the Well.

Erin Nitschke

Passionate wife, mother, college educator, writer, blogger, and health and fitness professional.


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