Health and Fitness Myths Exposed
Strength and fitness programs should be based on sound scientific evidence. Unfortunately, many people fall prey to the latest fitness craze in an effort to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Sticking to the basics will more times than not give you the best results.
A 20 Minute Walk Will Change Your Body Shape
One common misconception is that walking 20 minutes a day 5 to 6 days a week is all you need to do to be in shape. This is definitely true if you want to lead a longer, healthier life. Your heart, lungs, muscles, and joints will more healthy. You, however will NOT lose large amounts of weight, tone muscles, and make them look better. This is unfortunately not the case, it takes much more work to change your body shape.
In order to change your body shape, a much more intensive plan will have to be instituted. This plan should incorporate dietary changes, weight lifting, and more intense cardiovascular training. All of these activities will be needed to make substantive changes in body composition.
Weight loss is only accomplished when you burn more calories than you consume. That is, you have to exercise more to accommodate for the typical American high fat, fast food based diet. Caloric restriction should not be the diet of choice. A proper diet be composed of a balance of fruits and vegetables, whole grain derived foods, limited fat consumption, limited sugar consumption, and limited alcohol consumption. A well balanced diet will help to keep cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar low.
Foods should be freshly prepared; prepackaged foods tend to have been leached of essential vitamins and minerals. Avoid fried foods, high fat foods (cheaper cuts of red meats, processed sausages, and fast food hamburgers). A general rule of thumb is that the cheaper the meat, the higher the fat content. Fat is cheap, thatís why a fast food hamburger can be sold at such a low cost.
Weightlifting Raises Resting Metabolism
Another common misconception is that if you lift weights and add muscle mass you will lose weight when sitting due to a higher metabolism.
Scientific studies of muscle metabolism have conclusively shown that skeletal muscle burns about 13 calories per kilogram of body weight over a 24 hour period. If a man weighs 70 Kg (154 Lbs), has about 28 Kg of skeletal muscle will burn about 22% of the calories his body uses through the day. Adding 4 pounds of muscle bulk thru weightlifting, during a high intensity 6 month lifting program, would result in burning 24 more calories per day. One bite of an Oreo cookie contains about 24 calories.
A corollary to this is that you may gain weight due to lifting weights, even while loosing fat weight. This is one of the greatest exercise myths. The myth is based in fact: muscle is more dense and weighs more than fat. The same weight of muscle take up nearly half the volume as the same weight of fat.
The problem with this is that not very many people will be able to add the volume of muscle mass relative to fat lost to gain weight. Remember, the average man will add only 4 Kg of muscle mass in a rigorous training program.
This does not mean that weight training should be avoided. Weight training will result in higher lean body mass. This translates into more efficient fat metabolism for energy. Cellular membranes are more permeable to glucose, reducing the need for excess insulin in the blood. This results in a reduced susceptibility to diabetes.
Specific Exercises Will Cause Spot Reduction
Many exercise devices are marketed to spot reduce or spot tone a specific body part. The idea is that by using their device you will be able to tone the inner thighs, for example. This is simply not true.
Muscles utilize blood glucose, cellular energy stores, and blood fat for energy. Fat is not pulled from the area it is stored in to serve as energy in its own neighborhood. Once blood glucose levels are low, a hormonal reaction is triggered to metabolize stored fat for conversion to glucose for energy. Fat deposits are tapped in multiple places around the body, not adjacent to the body part requiring the need for energy.
A properly structured strength and conditioning program will result in a leaner body appearance (when combined with proper eating habits). This is in part due to fat loss and muscle hypertrophy (size increase). The amount of toning is, unfortunately, bases on oneís genetic predisposition for muscle growth and fat storage. We can not, unfortunately, change how our body is programmed to add muscle and store fat.
Lifting Heavy Weight Will Add Bulk
Adults, both male and female, may or may not become bulky when lifting heavy weight. Conversely, women are often told to lift light weights with high repetitions to avoid bulk. These both are determined by our genetics, not our lifting routine.
Women are less likely than men to add tremendous bulk when lifting weights. High levels of specific hormones are necessary for muscles to add large amounts of bulk. The genetics of each individual determine who can add bulk and who can not.
Many more individuals will be able to increase strength, often by 50% - 100%, than will be able to have 30 biceps. Individuals who are prone to bulky muscles will often determine this during training and compete in body building sports. The majority of the population who strength trains will merely add strength, coordination, and better health.
An extension of this is that muscle bulk will make you heavier, slower and loose quickness. All of these have been proven scientifically untrue.
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