When it comes to health and fitness, there is an abundance of myths out there. These myths are not only confusing but can also sabotage your fitness goals. So in today’s article, I would like to debunk the four most popular fitness myths so that you can act based on scientific facts to achieve your weight-loss goals.
As a nutrition and fitness coach, I am asked many questions. And some of these questions deal with popular myths. I sincerely hope this article will shed some light and help you to differentiate between myths and facts.
Myth #1 – 30 minutes of walking for 3 times every week helps to improve overall health
We are repeatedly told that merely walking for 30 minutes, 3 times a week is all we need to improve our health. This amount of activity neither improves your health nor your body composition.
Emerging research from the exercise world gives us a different number. So, if you are truly interested in improving your health, you should shoot for a minimum of 30 minutes of exercise every day. And if you want to lose weight and improve your body composition, you need roughly around 60 minutes of exercise most of the days.
Having said that, the type of exercise you choose to do has a big impact on your results. For instance, the benefits you reap from a 10-minutes high-intensity interval training (HIIT) is almost equal to 100 minutes of walking. So if you want to improve your health and body composition, you need to incorporate more HIIT and strength workouts to your workout routine.
Now, if you are wondering how you are going to find 30-60 minutes a day, then it’s important I debunk the second myth.
Myth #2: Exercise at least 30 minutes in one go to get a health benefit
This myth is one of the main reasons why many people abandon exercise altogether. They think they don’t have time to do 30 minutes in one go and hence abandon exercise altogether. If you don’t have time to complete all your workouts in one go, you can split it into three 10-minutes sessions and reap the same or even more benefits from your workouts.
And if walking is the only exercise you do, you can split your walking sessions too. Recent research from the University of Otago, New Zealand suggest that a mere 10 minutes short, vigorous walk after each meal (three times a day) may be even more beneficial than just a 30 minutes stroll.
While 30 minutes of exercise a day may be enough to keep up your general health, you’ll still need to get more moderate to vigorous exercise most days of the week if you’re trying to lose weight.
Myth #3: Aerobic exercise is the best for fat loss
What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when I talk about exercise? Most probably, a picture of someone jogging!
Jogging is a great aerobic exercise that has many therapeutic and health benefits. However, jogging (or any other aerobic activities) isn’t the best kind of exercise for fat loss. Perhaps you need to understand energy expenditure and afterburn effect in order to comprehend this statement fully.
From breathing to sleeping, all your activities require energy. When you exercise, this energy requirement goes up, and your body burns your fat to provide energy for the cells. Thereby making exercise an excellent way to shed some weight.
Did you know that your body continues to burn calories even after you stop working out? In scientific terminology, we call this EPOC, excess post-exercise oxygen consumption, which is commonly known as “afterburn effect”.
You burn a higher % of fat per minute during an aerobic activity. However, the afterburn effect of traditional aerobic activities is minimal.
However, if you do the same aerobic exercise (e.g. Jogging) in a vigorous form (e.g. Sprinting) your afterburn effect is high, i.e., your body will continue to burn more calories even after you stop exercising.
So, if you want to lose weight, the best exercise for you isn’t the one that burns calories only during an activity (such as aerobic exercise), but also after you stop that activity, i.e., an activity that has a high afterburn effect. HIIT and strength exercises have a high afterburn effect.
That’s why the “best” exercise for fat loss is a combination of strength training, high-intensity interval exercise, and a moderate amount of aerobic exercise.
Myth #4: Strength exercises make women bulky
One of the most frequent questions I get from my female clients is this:
“Don’t I become bulky, if I do strength exercise?”
The fact is, women won’t bulk up by lifting weights or doing any other strength exercises. They are less physiologically prone to bulking up because they have less muscle tissue and produce lower levels of testosterone hormones than men. Testosterone is a primary hormonal driver of muscle growth.