November 26, 2015 by ACE Physical Therapy and Sports Medicine Institute  
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exercise myths

Exercise Myths
by ACE Physical Therapy and Sports Medicine Institute

Tid Bits of Info.

  • Cardiovascular exercise should be performed a minimum of 3x/week for 30 minutes at 60% or greater maximum heart rate.
  • Strength training requires heavy resistance with fewer repetitions (3-7) and at least 24 hours rest between sessions.
  • Approximate maximum heart rate can be determined by the formula: 220 – your age = max HR.
  • Walking down a flight of stairs requires ¼ the energy as it takes to walk up the same flight.
  • Seek the advice of a Physical Therapist for exercise suggestions and prescriptions.

As we try following a regimen of regular exercise and balanced eating, we often encounter all sorts of tips and tricks from friends, from celebrities and even from supposed fitness gurus.  In fact, there are so many ideas floating around about fitness that it can be confusing. This blog will help clarify the truth beneath some of the partial truths and exercise myths around.

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.

Sweating equals more calorie burn

Although someone might sweat a lot when exercising aggressively, it does not correlate exactly to the number of calories that are burned.   Sweating is the body’s way to cool itself and maintain a safe body temperature.  The sweat evaporates from the skin and produces a cooling effect.  The need to sweat might be due to an aggressive, calorie-burning workout, but it might also be because the room temperature is too hot!

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, “tears”, in the muscle cells.  The micro damage causes swelling of the cell and the swelling causes the pain.

Sports Drinks are needed to replenish electrolytes

Sports drinks can be very useful for endurance athletes or during an extended exercise routine.  The use of these drinks that are formulated to replenish what is lost when someone sweats a lot should be used during and after an event that is at least 1 hour in duration.  If short and intense routines are performed, the need for these drinks diminishes.  Most sports drinks add sugar and can actually lead to weight gain.  For most people, water is the best fluid to drink to replenish fluid lost during an exercise routine.

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.

You can prevent injuries if you stretch before exercise

Stretching before an exercise routine for most people will not hurt or help them prevent an injury from occurring.  There are people that will promote stretching before an exercise routine, but what they should promote is a good “warm-up” and not necessarily a stretching routine. Static stretching has been shown to reduce muscle contraction force which could predispose someone to an injury.  Stretching after an exercise routine will enhance flexibility and might help to prevent an injury.  Warming –up the body in preparation for an exercise routine should be considered a mandatory activity.  This will help to enhance blood flow, increase tissue temperature and decrease the fluid viscosity within the joints and soft tissues of the exercising body parts.  These physiological effects of a warm-up routine can help to reduce the incident of an injury.


Physical Therapists are excellent healthcare professionals to consult with if you are interested in beginning your exercise program.  Physical Therapists deal with all aspects of exercise when they are rehabilitating an injured patient.  They will be able to advise you on the initiation and progression of an exercise program.   It is easy to visit a Physical Therapist, and you don’t have to go to your doctor first.

Exercising is a great way to improve the quality of your life.  It has been proven that the proper exercises and amount of exercise can enhance your life and help you live longer.  Misinformation and myths about exercise continually circulate, so before you dive head first into an exercise regime, it would be beneficial to utilize the expertise of a Physical Therapist.



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