‘SWEAT OUT THE FAT!’ || ‘DON’T DRINK WATER DURING EXERCISE!’ || ‘EXERCISE ONLY IN THE MORNING’ || – YOU HAVE HEARD THOSE SO OFTEN, YOU TAKE THEM AS GOSPEL TRUTHS. BUT ARE THEY? BELIEVE IT NOT!
We all need a fitness regimen, it’s the modern equivalent of ‘an apple a day…’. What happens in reality, however, is that a lot of us are bound by mistaken theories and notions of exercise and consequently our fitness programs are built around a lot of unscientific information. But fitness today is a science. The Americans alone spend in excess of billions every year in search of the perfect shape. And a good chunk of that budget is channeled into research into the most efficient modes of exercise. New discoveries and advancements are being made every day. In the process, a lot of the steadfastly held beliefs of yesteryear have been proven wrong or just plain obsolete.
By acquainting yourself with what’s right and what’s wrong about long-held notions of exercise, you’ll be able to iron out the glitches in your own fitness regimen and get the most out of your workout. So, here they are: the 7 most common myths about exercise.
MYTH #1: SWEAT OUT THE FAT!
FACT — People who are exercising chiefly to lose weight often fall for the ‘sweating the fat out’ myth. According to this somewhat quaint belief, vigorous exercise in the heat or with warm clothing (whatever makes you perspire profusely), ‘melts’ the fat which then comes out as sweat from your pores. Unfortunately, this is physiologically impossible: sweat is sweat and fat is fat and never the twain shall meet. You can’t sweat fat out. Even if you were working out in minimum attire in a cool room and putting in the same amount of effort – you’d get the same results.
In fact, too much of hot and sweaty exercise is bad for the elderly.
MYTH #2: DON’T DRINK WATER DURING EXERCISE!
FACT — Another long-held belief is that one should never drink water during a workout, even if it’s vigorous, sweaty exercise. This is totally false. Regardless of what exercise program you are following – weight-training, aerobics, jogging, calisthenics, rowing, whatever – if you’re feeling thirsty or if you’re sweating, go ahead and drink water. You are losing fluid, so you need to replenish it; you don’t have to wait till you finish. Don’t go overboard – just sip a little to quench your thirst.
MYTH #3: EXERCISE ONLY IN THE MORNING!
FACT — Actually, the evening is a far better time. When you workout soon after waking up, your body (muscles tendons, joints, etc.) is stiff and you might strain or even injure yourself, especially if you haven’t warmed up properly. If, however, the only time you can find is in the morning, then our recommendation is that you should have been awake at least an hour and that you should loosen up properly; do a bit of stretching, warming-up etc.
MYTH #4: IF A WORKOUT HAS WORKED WELL FOR SOMEONE YOU KNOW, IT WILL DO THE SAME FOR YOU
FACT — There are basically three body types: ectomorphs, those who tend towards slimness and have difficulty putting on weight; endomorphs, who are overweight, often obese and for whom losing weight is a problem; and mesomorphs, the lucky dudes in the middle, whom nature has endowed with proportionate dimensions in physique and bone structure. Most people fall into one of the first two categories.
Now, what often happens is that people who have finally been motivated and are all fired-up to do something about their fitness, choose the wrong program or exercise schedule for their body type. You have to recognize your body type and accordingly select a fitness regimen meant for you. Obviously, if you’re the ectomorphic type and need to gain some weight, there’s not much point doing aerobics or long-distance running. Similarly, it doesn’t make much sense for an endomorph to embark on a program of heavy-weight resistance exercise (though he/she can do ‘circuit’ weight-training)
Also, people sometimes get involved with physically disproportionate exercise programs. You’ll find a lot of enthusiasts doing exercises that mainly stress the lower body (running, cycling, certain leisure sports) and while they might help you get in a cardio-vascular workout, don’t be under the impression that they’ll do much for your upper-body looks. Try to adopt a program (or a combination of programs) that works the entire body.
MYTH #5: GO FOR THE BURN!
FACT — Jane Fonda has a lot to answer for this one: the propagation of the myth that you’ve got to strain your body to excruciating, exhausting limits in order to derive the maximum benefits of exercise.
The fact is that pushing yourself to the outer limits of your capacity and beyond will only tax your muscles, and make you prone to injury. After your workout, you’re likely to feel fatigued, and the feeling of lethargy and sluggishness may persist through the day.
Your workout should be of sufficient intensity to leave you pleasantly flushed – nothing more, nothing less.
MYTH # 6: JOGGING IS ONE OF THE BEST EXERCISES FOR ALL AGE GROUPS!
FACT — Jogging as a means of exercise is itself going out of fashion (just as fitness itself became ‘fashionable’ a few years ago). Research has helped joggers find more viable alternatives – stair-climbing, stationary cycling, workout on skiing machines, treadmills and the like. Because, even though jogging provides you with a good cardio-vascular, endurance type workout, you can do without the stress that it puts on your body. And jogging on the road is murder: murder on your joints, particularly those of the ankle and knee; and the continuous impacting of your feet on hard, unyielding concrete or whatever – at a force equal to many times your body-weight – is extremely stressful to your body. Think of it as an unremitting series of shocks to your body, all your bones and internal organs, for periods varying from 15 minutes to an hour. If you love jogging too much to give it up, just do it on soft surface – parks, lawns or even the beach. Better still, try something else like brisk walking (it’s as effective and less stressful than jogging).
MYTH #7: YOU CAN GAIN HEIGHT OR LOSE WEIGHT THROUGH EXERCISE ALONE!
FACT — Exercise, Diet, and Rest are a tripod upon which a holistic fitness program stands. The entire structure imbalances if just one of these is ignored. You need not worry so much about the rest and recuperation part of it unless you’re in fairly rigorous training or holding down a stressful job and partying late at night as a matter of course. But if you’re serious about your fitness, nutrition cannot be ignored. Exercise is the main factor that will radically alter (if you keep at it) the way you look, feel and live, but alongside you’ve got to watch your diet.
It’s actually a simple matter of caloric arithmetic: if you are expending 500 calories a day through exercise, and then eating that much more because all that exercise made you hungry, it’s not going to make a jot of difference to your weight. Side by side you’ve got to cut down the calories you take in. Watch what you eat – keep fats, oils sweets, to a minimum.