Think you have a good handle on health and fitness? Here are some common fitness “truths” personal trainer Andrea Metcalf frequently gets asked about from clients. Get to the bottom of these “misunderstandings” so you can learn facts that will help you reach your health and fitness goals.
Myth 1: The more you sweat, the more fat you’re burning.
Now if this were true, I would quit my workouts and head straight for the sauna! The truth is that sweating is a response to temperature regulation in the body. More importantly, just because you’re not sweating doesn’t mean you’re not burning calories and eventually burning fat. When the body works out, the cooling mechanism is sweating. The more you work out, the more the body gets in tune with turning on its air conditioning and cooling down the motors. But really, you don’t have to sweat to get in a good workout. Just listen to your body and try to do a little better each workout.
Myth 2: You have to do 30 minutes of cardio daily for good heart health.
The American College of Sports Medicine recommends 30 minutes of moderate activity to support heart health. The key word in all of this is “moderate activity.’ Moderate activity can be anything from walking to raking leaves. The American Heart Association goes further to define exercise in the following recommendations:
- At least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity at least five days per week for a total of 150…. or
- At least 25 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity at least three days per week for a total of 75 minutes; or a combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity… and
- Moderate- to high-intensity muscle-strengthening activity at least two days per week for additional health benefits.
This translates into movement and defines intensity levels. The key is to push blood throughout the body. Simply jumping rope (a high intensity aerobic activity) for 10 minutes can have the same heart healthy effects of 30 minutes of walking. Keep in mind that weight training can count as heart healthy activity as well.
Myth 3: If you’re not sore the next day, you’re not working hard enough.
If you have ever felt slow to sit or stand up after a new workout, you’ve experienced muscle soreness. But, feeling sore after every workout isn’t normal. Muscles are tissues that take time to change. They need slow progressions to grow and rebuild the muscle fibers that you are challenging within your workouts. Most people see changes in strength or resistance increases—like doing exercises with 10-pound weights now when you could previously only do them with 5-pound dumbbells—due to muscle coordination and balance rather than increased muscle strength. But even without muscle soreness, gains can be made in lean muscle mass. In fact, rest and recovery are important to increasing lean muscle and gaining strength.
Myth 4: Lifting weights will cause you look “big.”
Incorporating strength training exercises into your weekly routine won’t quickly transform you into a power lifter’s physique, but you will get bigger and stronger from lifting weights. While the lean muscle mass you build can help you burn more calories when you aren’t exercising, keep in mind that muscle growth will make you feel hungrier if you have a high carbohydrate diet. When you train hard, your muscles leach the blood sugars out of your system to use for energy, lowering blood sugar levels and making you hungry. If you find that you satisfy that hungry by frequently reaching for carbs instead of protein, you’ll be more likely to put on weight, and if you have body fat over those muscles, you won’t have the lean look you desire. You won’t build the type of muscles that men have due to the hormonal differences; but if you start weight training and find that your hunger is out of control, opt for more protein to rebuild those muscles over empty carbs to keep your calorie intake intact.
Myth 5: Low carb diets are the best.
This commonly-accepted belief drives nutritionists like myself crazy! Carbohydrates are exactly what your brain and body need for energy. Plus, all the wonderful vitamin- and antioxidant-rich foods known as fruits and vegetables are carbs! How can you ever get 9 to11 servings of fruits and vegetables a day if you’re on a low-carb diet? You can’t! Balanced meals with protein, carbs, and good fats are key for getting a wholesome diet. There is loads of research showing that a simple balance of proteins, carbs and fats can be the answer to a healthy diet. The key is eating a variety of unprocessed carbs combined with good fats and lean proteins. The DASH diet, BOLD diet and even Paleo diets have a 40, 30, 30 ratio of carbs, protein and fats. Opt for 9 to 11 servings of fruits and vegetables daily with a serving of lean protein at each meal. Good fats like avocados, walnuts, olives, almonds, seeds, etc., should be incorporated throughout the day.
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– By Andrea Metcalf, CPT, Fitness Expert, founder AndreaMetcalf.com