"Flat abs now!" "Miracle abdominal crunches!"
Every day, we are bombarded with get-fit-quick messages online, on television, in magazines, and even by friends. With this inundation of information, how do you sift through the fiction for the fact? Below, we've listed some of the most common fitness myths—and set the record straight—so you won't fall prey to these common fitness fallacies.
More is better.
Often when you're kick-starting a new fitness routine, the tendency is to go into overdrive. "People start working out eight days a week, 370 days a year, thinking it will get them quicker results," explains clinical exercise physiologist William Sukala, MS, CSCS. "They usually burn themselves out and eventually fall off the exercise wagon." The key to fitness success is consistency and moderation. Establishing a regular routine should be your top priority.
Doing sit-ups will give you a flat stomach.
People are always looking to target specific areas of their bodies with exercises, believing that zillions of sit-ups will lead to a picture-perfect, washboard stomach. "There is no such thing as spot reduction," says Sukala. Sit-ups and crunches can strengthen your abs, but they can't get rid of fat. "Only regular exercise training—aerobic and strength—and a sensible diet can eliminate excess body fat," says Cedric Bryant, Ph.D., chief exercise physiologist at the American Council on Exercise.
I must join—and live at—the gym to establish a regular fitness routine.
Some people are intimidated by all of those mirrors and high-tech machines. Find a workout buddy and walk around the neighbourhood. Or try another favourite activity, such as tennis or biking. "All you need to do is commit to moving—and it can be cumulative, like walking to a co-worker rather than sending an email or taking the stairs instead of the elevator," says Bryant. "Exercise is like loose change in your pocket—it can add up."
The best time to work out is early in the morning.
"There is no 'best time' to work out," explains Sukala. "People should work out when they're comfortable: This could mean 4:00 in the morning for some people and 10:30 in the evening for others." One thing to keep in mind is that blood pressure is more elevated in early morning for most people. So, if you exercise in the early morning, particularly with resistance training exercises, your blood pressure response is probably going to be higher. If you have normal blood pressure, this should not pose a problem. However, if your resting blood pressure tends to be elevated, discuss early morning exercise with your physician. And for most people, the best thing to do is to try different times of day and see what works for you.