10 Fitness Myths Debunked Pt.2

This is my second instalment of a two part series on debunking 10 fitness myths. You can read the truth about the first 5 myths in Part One. This post will explore myths 6-10 and uncover their falseness.

Myth 6: Drink sports drinks during and after workouts to stay hydrated

Staying hydrated before, during and after a workout is important, but if  you are exercising for less than 60 minutes there is little evidence to suggest having a sports drink will provide additional benefits to having water. Your body won’t be working hard enough to run out of electrolytes or glucose (which is the benefit of sports drinks over water) and therefore you are only adding unnecessary calories to your diet.

A sports drink however is beneficial when engaged in intense workouts over 60 minutes, or in endurance events such as marathons and long distance cycling. So if you are just hitting the gym for a spin class or a weights workout, you’re better off saving your money and sticking to water to keep yourself hydrated.

For more on this topic, read my blog post What Is A Sports Drink And When Should You Have One?

Myth 7: Stretch before you workout to prevent injury

Stretching as a warm-up before exercise is common place, and has been for a long time. However research has found that there isn’t any correlation between stretching and injury prevention. As a warm-up increasing blood flow to the muscles through some light cardio and dynamic movements is actually more conducive to injury prevention.

Myth 8: I’m thin so I don’t need to exercise

Just because you are thin doesn’t mean you are healthy. Losing weight is not the only reasons to exercise. To me, the most important reason is to improve overall health and wellbeing.

People who are thin can still carry unhealthy fat internally which sits around vital organs. This fat is called visceral fat and can increase the risk of heart disease, some cancers and type 2 diabetes.

The benefits of exercise go well beyond controlling weight. Some of the many benefits include:

  • Helping build and maintain healthy bones, muscles, and joints;
  • Improving self-esteem;
  • Reducing feelings of depression and anxiety;
  • Reducing the risk of chronic diseases;
  • Improving sleeping patterns; and
  • Boosting the immune system.

Myth 9: The best time to exercise is first thing in the morning

Some people are just naturally morning people, like myself and prefer to exercise in the morning. Other people are slower to get moving in the morning and prefer to exercise later in the day. The good news is that there is no optimal time to exercise for everyone. The best time of the day to exercise is the time you can commit to. Pick a time that suits you and make it part of your daily/weekly schedule.

Myth 10: The calorie read on fitness machines are accurate

It can be a great feeling seeing the large amount of calories you have burned after using the treadmill, elliptical trainer or the stationary bike. Unfortunately though, the number displayed on screen is usually quite inflated. Even on machines where you specifically enter your gender, weight and age, the calorie burn displayed could be way off by tens to hundreds of calories!

So if you are interested in calories burned for each workout my advice would be just to use the calorie burn display as a guide to compare one workout session to the next.

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Comments (2)

  1. Another great article Megan. I’m particularly surprised by myth 7. I’ve read that pre-exercise stretching offers little benefit, but I’ve always considered post-exercise stretching as an important recovery technique. Personal experience cannot compete with the findings of a meta-study, but this is what I’ve observed over the years:
    1. Pre-exercise stretching is valuable if you are feeling especially tight or inflexible (e.g. an early morning gym workout when the body is cold and rigid). I’ve hurt my back on two occasions when attempting squats with tight glutes. I now consider stretching essential before a lower body workout (especially if I’ve just climbed out of bed).
    2. Post-exercise stretching is valuable if you’re training infrequently. The less I train, the more likely I am to pull up sore/tight. In such cases, I’ve found stretching after exercise aids the recovery process. This is important, for if I try to run the next day with tight muscles, my form deteriorates, and injury quickly follows.
    If research throws doubt on the value of stretching, can you comment on the value of the “warm up” and “cool down”? Are these equally redundant? Perhaps we may look at the “warm up” as a form of low intensity stretching? As always, interested in your thoughts. Keep up the good work.

    • Thanks for your comments Pete. Below is my response to your questions on stretching and the value of a “warm up” and a “cool down”. I hope it answers your questions.

      1. Pre-exercise stretching: The evidence shows that pre-exercise stretching offers little benefit. However, a warm up is very beneficial. A warm up helps to prepare both your mind and your body for exercise. The warm ups I generally prescribe (and do) consist of a general warm-up to increase blood flow to the muscles, such as going for a 5min jog/walk, using a stationary bike etc, which is then followed by more specific ‘dynamic movements’ that are relevant to the workout. So if you were doing a squat session I would incorporate some light or bodyweight goodmornings, body weight squats and/lunges. I’d also incorporate some spinal twists to lubricate the spine. Doing a general followed by a specific warm up will aid in your performance for the workout.

      2. Post-exercise stretching: Any exercise/movement you aren’t used to doing (or haven’t done in a long time) can lead to muscle soreness post exercise. However evidence suggests that stretching does not aid in alleviating this soreness, but people (including myself) like to do it, simply because it feels good. There is some benefit to stretching post workout though, as part of a cool down. A cool down is beneficial after a workout as it can help your heart rate and breathing turn back to a resting state gradually. A cool down also helps to remove waste products from your muscles, such as lactic acid, which can build up during vigorous activity. A cool down can consist of some light jogging, walking etc and static stretching. I generally stretch (so do my clients) following exercise as it helps relax muscles and aids in maintaing and improving flexibility/range of motion. However as the research shows, it does not aid in injury prevention or decrease post exercise muscle soreness.

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