November 23, 2016 by ACE Physical Therapy and Sports Medicine Institute  
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exercise myths

Common Exercise Myths
by ACE Physical Therapy and Sports Medicine Institute

Tid Bits of Info.

  • Maximum heart rate can be calculated by subtracting your age from 220.
  • Body Mass Index (BMI) is commonly used as a marker of proper body composition.
  • Pre-event static stretching has been proven to be nearly useless and can cause a reduction in power output.
  • Strength development can occur at any age and as we get older there is a natural reduction in muscle mass.
  • If you have concerns about certain exercises or want information on proper exercise routines, seek the advice and treatment from a Physical Therapist.

Exercise can be extremely beneficial for the mind and body. At the same time, there are a variety of exercise myths regularly shared online and in person that are simply not true. To get the most out of your workout, be sure to know why you are performing certain activities. Following popular myths for your exercise program could easily distract you from a productive routine that will deliver worthwhile results.

Crunches are not the answer to flat abs

A flat abdominal mid-section is dependent upon several factors.  The fat on the abdominal wall must be at a minimum and the muscle structure must be well developed.   Crunches and other “sit up” exercises do not burn a lot of calories.  The amount of fat on the abdominal wall will directly correlate with the “flat” appearance of the abs.  If the abdominal wall is to be “flat” the fat must be reduced.  Performing cardiovascular exercises, watching caloric intake and performing abdominal strengthening exercises is the best way to obtain a “flat abs” physique.

Targeting fat burn

Some people believe that they can “target” a certain area of their body and “burn” more fat at that site.  Fat is used as a fuel source during prolonged workouts.  When someone is working out for an extended period of time, the intensity has to be sub-maximal or aerobic in nature.  The body’s fuel source for the muscles shifts from stored sugars to proteins and fat as the duration increases and the intensity decreases.  The body is not particular where the fat comes from and it is not dependent upon what body part is performing the exercise.  In short, you cannot target fat burning in a particular body part.

59100730 - group of friends exercising in park

Post-exercise muscle soreness is caused by Lactic Acid

Muscle soreness occurs if the workout is aggressive and is usually at its worst 48 hours after the workout.  For years, lactic acid has been thought to be the culprit that caused the muscle soreness.   If lactic acid causes muscle soreness, performing more exercise would actually make matters worse.   In truth, performing a low-intensity exercise routine that is similar to the one that caused the pain in the first place will reduce muscle pain.  The current theory for muscle soreness is referred to as DOMS or Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness.  This onset of soreness is due to micro damage or “tears” in the muscle cells.  The micro damage causes swelling of the cell and the swelling causes the pain.

 Using a scale to weigh yourself is a positive motivator 

Many people use a scale on a daily basis and become obsessed with the results, but the scale may discourage and distract you from the real goal of fitness. The actual number on the scale does not reflect your body type.  Many people exercise regularly and don’t experience a reduction in body fat.  Excessively hard workouts develop more muscle mass, causing an increase in body weight because muscle weighs more than fat. You should be more concerned with their percentage of body fat and not the number on the scale.

Strength training in runners is not a good idea 

Running can be catabolic and actually “break down” tissue.  No one should participate in the same activity/routine all of the time.  Cross training is much better for the musculoskeletal system.  Resistance training is a great idea for runners.  The idea is not to lift a heavy or excessive amount of weight, but resistance training places a different type of stress and strain across the joint and soft tissues of the body.  The body has to adapt to these forces, increasing strength and improving running capability.

Young children should not lift weights

Children can benefit from a structured resistance/weight training program.  The focus on should be to teach children the proper form of the different exercises. They will not experience an increase in muscle size or significant strength until they reach puberty.   The level of testosterone is not adequate to facilitate the muscle development until a certain age.

 Wearing ankle weights while you walk around will strengthen your legs.

The use of any weight on your body will force the muscles to “work” harder and help to develop strength.  Unfortunately, wearing an ankle weight on your ankle to develop strength in your legs can be very detrimental if you do it and walk around.  The ankle weight will produce a distraction force in the knee during the natural gait cycle.  As the leg is swung from toe off to mid-stance the leg is not in contact with the ground and the weight can “pull” on the ankle.  If carrying weight is the goal, put on a belt or vest that can be loaded with extra weight.

Your cardio machine is counting the calories you’re burning.

The calorie numbers spit out by the cardio machine are most likely not accurate. If the machine does not ask for your weight or sex it cannot give an accurate value.  To accurately provide a number of calories burned during a cardio workout the machine would need to have age, sex, weight and body composition entered into it.  The average cardio machine is not programmed to utilize this information.  Therefore, the number of calories burned cannot be accurately recorded during your cardio machine workout.

Exercise can be very therapeutic and provides many people with the physical outlet that will enable them to reduce stress and enhance their physical conditioning.  Overall health and fitness is a better goal than offering people false information based on exercise myths. By performing a regular exercise routine in a proper way, you can enhance nearly all aspects of your life.

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