AFTER 65 YEARS…….
of playing sports, working out and trying to stay fit, I have been exposed to lots of doctrine. Fitness practitioners tend to be very forthcoming with their advice. This is usually quite helpful and indicative of a generous spirit, especially when that advice is sought and delivered in response to a need. Unsolicited platitudes are less valuable, to put it politely.
There are occasions when we need to be careful when seeking advice:
- When the level of expertise of the adviser is questionable
- When personal anecdotes do not translate to general applications
- When recent research renders long-accepted principles ineffective
When I began seriously playing tennis, I was instructed to take salt pills during matches and to sip water carefully. We now know to use electrolyte drinks and/or to stay as hydrated as possible with water.
We may usually be correct in assuming that any exercise is good or at least better than no exercise. But there have been many misconceptions over the years in the realm of fitness. In this post I will cite some of those that I have uncovered through experience.
Hopefully, this will help to answer questions and separate current exercise principles from outdated dogma.
- We can reduce fat in a specific area of our body by focusing our workout on that area. Quite untrue, though many still cling to this idea. We cannot expect to reduce our waist line by doing crunches, V-ups or planks alone. We may increase our abdominal musculature, but this will not reduce our waist lines. We can not direct fat loss from a body part without also reducing our body in its entirety. More importantly, waist reduction must be accomplished by a combination of a better diet and cardio exercise, along with resistance exercise all over. This is not to suggest that we give up on core workouts, which build clean muscle tissue, just that spot reduction is a myth and spot reduction is just as ineffective everywhere else on our bodies.
- :Long workouts work best. This is also not true, though earlier bodybuilders would often spend hours going through their routines. Intensity is much better than duration and intensity can not be maintained for long periods of time. A yoga workout for an hour makes a lot of sense, as do long hikes or cross-country skiing. But a workout for developing muscles and an improved physique requires intensity and focus. A 30-minute high intensity routine works best for most people.
- Weight lifting builds unattractive, bulky muscles on women. It may be unlikely that women have the genetic predisposition to develop large muscles. Weight training can produce better bone density and help to burn body fat. There are women who develop very large muscles, but this is by intention. There are far more well – toned and attractively firm female fitness practitioners.
- You can transform fat to muscle by training with weights. It doesn’t work that way. You may become bulky, with fat underneath muscle, but why not reduce the fat first by better diet control and cardio / all over resistance training. Similarly, your muscles will not immediately turn to fat when you stop training with weights. I heard this often from detractors when I first began to work out as a teenager. (There are always detractors when we attempt a disciplined program). First, those muscles must atrophy and this is a much longer process when they have been developed through constant usage. A two-week layoff will not create any discernible difference at all. Years of inaction will certainly have an effect, but your atrophy will be much slower than that of those who never worked out.
- Aerobic or strength workouts will increase your metabolism for hours afterwards. I have heard this often and it is simply an exaggeration. There will be a boost, but not really a significant one; less than 30 calories are burned for the rest of the day. But keep at it, by all means.
- You must feel pain to have an effective workout. No pain, no gain. Some soreness after a workout is to be expected, but pain during a workout indicates an injury or poor technique in training. Pain is not to be confused with all – out exertion. “Working through pain” is not advised by doctors or other experts. If in pain, stop, rest and let the pain heal.
- Static stretching before a workout or sports competition will reduce potential injuries. This is a popular myth that makes no sense. Static stretching should be only used after exercise to help with recovery, Dynamic stretching is great before a workout, since this fires up your muscles – leg kicks, walking with high knees, rope skipping. Watch Rafael Nadal before a tennis match.
- Cardio is better than weight training for senior adults who want to lose fat and preserve muscle. Research by Wake Forest University of 249 overweight people in their 60s concluded that “cardio workouts may actually cause older adults with obesity to lose more lean mass than dieting alone”. This was quite surprising. Here is that reporting.
Here are a few essential fitness items easily available through Amazon. As an Amazon affiliate, I may earn from qualifying purchases:
Here is the link to Dick’s Sporting Goods and to a huge list of holiday specials:
Here is a link to the Fit Track Dara scale, shown below. This unique scale reports on 17 vital body measurements.
Last but not least, check out the Bullworker product line. These are high quality fitness items – small but powerfully effective.
Fortunately, fitness training has been around for many centuries and has achieved the respect it deserves. I am constantly thankful that I have been able to live a life of fitness, which is not to say that I have not stumbled and fallen along the way.
That working out has had its share of controversies should be a surprise to no one. Any body of information will have similar inconsistencies.
Hopefully, to point out a few misconceptions will not discourage anyone from adopting or continuing a fitness lifestyle.
By all means, please consider a life of health and fitness if you have not already done so. You will never regret it!
Please leave me any comments or questions in the “Comments” section below, or email me, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Be well and stay safe!