With the contrasting cold and mild days of March, thoughts of springtime abound. And with the more pleasant spring-like weather ahead in the coming months, it is also a great time to “spring” into a realistic and consistent wellness program to shed any extra pounds gained during the winter months. Below are seven fitness myths that need to be addressed so you can stay on track when starting a wellness program:
- No Pain, No Gain. This is an old-school myth that needs to be changed pronto.
Athletes and exercise enthusiasts were mistakenly informed to “work through the pain” of muscle soreness or no benefits would occur. Nothing could be farther from truth. According to an article by the McClatchy-Tribune News Service, feeling sore a day or two after a new workout can be fairly normal, but you should never hurt beyond that. Any soreness that worsens or lingers for four, five or six days after a workout indicates possible inflammation.
- Stretching Is Less Important And Unnecessary. “No!” Emphasizes
Michael O’Shea, Fitness Columnist for Parade Magazine. “Stretching is one of the most important aspects of safe, productive exercise. To perform efficiently and optimally you must have the full range of motion of your muscles. This is true whether you are an athlete or exercising for fun or general health.” O’Shea further mentions that not stretching muscles results in tightness, restricted movement, and perhaps a loss of some mobility, and poor posture over time because the spine can curve when back, shoulder and chest muscles tighten. He indicates that stretching should be done after the muscles have been warmed up and also after exercise to “help maintain full range of motion, help the muscles relax after exercise and reduce the chances of muscle strain.”
- If You Stop Lifting Weights, Muscles Will Turn To Fat. The fact is that
“muscle and fat are two distinct types of tissue, so it’s physiologically impossible for one to ‘turn into’ the other,” according to Alyssa Shaffer, fitness writer for AskMen.com. She adds, however, that muscle will lose tone when it is not exercised, and that contributes to a “flabby appearance” instead of the previous solid muscle. “And if you don’t adjust your diet and workout after you quit training, some of that food you’re eating will turn to fat.”
- To Lose Abdominal Fat, Do Sit-Ups Or Crunches. McClatchy-Tribune
News Service cited Jeremy Koerber, head exercise specialist at BJC
WellAware Center: “I see a lot of people come in here and say they want to lose their stomach. I say, ‘Modify your diet and start working on a treadmill,’ and they look at me like I’m crazy. You could have abs like Schwarzenegger, but if you have a layer of body fat over them, you will never see them.” Translation: Abdominal exercises such as crunches and sit-ups are great for strengthening stomach and core muscles, but they will not eliminate fat. Watch your calories, food portions, and the types of foods and beverages you consume and include regular strength training and aerobic activities such as brisk walking, and you will reduce both abdominal and overall body fat.
- Eat More Protein And You’ll Build More Muscle. This dietary myth should read: Eat more protein than your body can process and you’ll excrete it or it will be stored as fat. According to Exercise & Health Magazine, “If you’re eating healthfully, you’re probably getting all the protein you need to build muscle from exercise. Experts say there is no real need to exceed the U.S. recommended daily allowance for protein, which is between 0.8 and 1.0 gram of protein for each kilogram of body weight.” The magazine cited Carla Wolper, M.S., R.D., a dietitian at the Obesity Research Center at St. Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital, New York City, who mentions ideally consuming one gram of protein per day for every 2.2 pounds of body weight. She adds, “If you weigh 160 pounds, for example, each day you should be eating about 73 grams of protein.” Top protein sources include fish, low-fat dairy foods, lean meats, dried beans, soy, eggs, nuts, seeds and legumes.
- Avoid Dietary Fat For Optimal Health.Exercise & Health also mentions that while a high-fat diet can trigger diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and some forms of cancer, “it’s important to realize that we need some fat in our diet for proper body functioning and metabolism…Fat supports organs and transports hormones. The important thing: Don’t overdo. Keep fat to no more than 30 per cent of your diet. The government recommends a daily maximum of 65 fat grams for adults.” Healthier fats are found in nuts and seeds, olive oil, avocadoes, and fish. Nutritionists advise reducing the amount of saturated fat in your diet from meats and dairy foods, and avoiding trans fats found in many processed foods such as cookies, chips and crackers containing partially-hydrogenated oils.
- Carbohydrates Make You Fat. Here’s another one of those dietary fads in recent years that had no scientific basis. Says Wolper in Exercise & Health Magazine, “The body counts calories, whether they come from fat, carbohydrate or protein. Eat too much of anything and the calories will add up.”
Bottom line: For weight management and improved health and wellness, fitness and medical professionals advocate consuming small densely-nutritious meals comprising protein, carbohydrate and some fat throughout the day instead of three or four large meals; drinking ample amounts of water; reducing the amount of sugar, salt and processed foods in your diet and limiting high calorie sugary drinks which have minimal, if any nutritive value; increasing your intake of high fiber foods such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains that contain disease-fighting antioxidants; and engaging in some form of physical activity every day – be it a brisk walk, weight training, an aerobics or yoga class, playing a sport, gardening, house cleaning, dancing, or simply taking the stairs instead of the elevator more often or parking your car farther away in a shopping mall and walking more.