[fitness friday] Fitness Myths Abound Despite Wealth of Information

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written by john c ashworth, ma

If I asked you how many calories you needed to burn to kill a pound of fat or what is the best time of day to exercise, or whether or not strength training really is bad for women because it causes them to bulk up, what would you say?

It turns out that according to a recent poll conducted by Nautilus, people are still flummoxed when it comes to their health and fitness knowledge. It seems that despite the wealth of information produced daily on the topic of your fitness program, most people remained confused, misinformed, and full of confusion as a result.

As a fitness coach, I can tell you that this is very true. Most folks I talk to have lots of questions about the things they hear or read in the media. Lots of questions and very few answers. The info graphic below is a fun representation of the data collected in the pole by Nautilus. You can follow the link below that graphic if you want to try the quiz yourself.

For Fitness Friday tonight with John Stofflet, I thought it would be fun to cover the basic findings of this poll, and then spend time debunking three of the most prevalent myths I discuss with clients and fitness enthusiasts on a regular basis.

First, here are a few of the most disturbing findings in the poll:

  • Three quarters of the respondents did not know how many calories equated to a pound of fat.
  • Only 13% were aware that strength training would NOT “bulk a woman up.”
  • Only 39% realized that an egg was a healthy source of protein.
  • The overall average score on the quiz was only 42%.

Now, I realize that a poll like this is somewhat informal.  Capturing the quick and dirty answers that people are likely to fire off while reading an article on their phone while waiting their turn in the Starbucks line.  However, it does raise an important reality which is that when it comes to health and fitness, and designing your individualized health and fitness program at least a basic understanding of common fitness and nutrition principles is paramount.  Of course, we can’t do all that here today, so let’s just cover three important myths that have all surfaced in my work over the last couple months.

Myth 1: If you’re a woman, you need to avoid strength training so you don’t “bulk-up”  Totally untrue, of course. I’ll explain tonight on the air. The jist?  To build even a couple pounds of muscle in one year, a women would have to work very hard. Most women don’t work that hard on their strength training programs.  Even then, when you compare the sizes of a pound of muscle versus a pound of fat you will see that fat is what bulks you up, not muscle.

One pound of muscle is equivalent in size to a baseball. One pound of fat is about 5 times that size.

Myth 2: That you can turn fat into muscle.  This is a natural extension of myth number one.  The truth, of course being that you lose fat and gain muscle and that you have to train and eat the right way in order for this to happen.  And when you do it right, the exact opposite of “bulking up” is the result.

Myth 3: “I do Yoga.  That’s all I need for my exercise program.”  True, Yoga is a terrific way to ground yourself, relieve stress, improve your flexibility and your strength.  However, according to a study performed by the American Council on exercise, even a “power (high intensity)” yoga session burns less than half of what you would burn while performing strength training or taking a spinning or aerobics class.  The truth is that you need Yoga (or stretching) along with strength training and cardiovascular exercise. (Once again, I’ll dig up the actual study and link to it if I can find it)

Why do these fitness myths abound?

Too much information.  Health and fitness is one of the hottest topics out there, and as such, everyone is covering it.  The problem becomes sifting through all this information, separating fact from fiction and hype, and finding a fitness program that fits your own individual needs, desires, and physical limitations.

-John

Nautilus & Bowflex Fitness Quiz: Are You Flunking Fitness Class? Infographic

Infographic by Nautilus, Bowflex Fitness Quiz: Are You Flunking Fitness Class? Infographic

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