10 fitness myths busted

Biokineticists Cornell Peek, Brent Erasmus and Nikita Cara of Virgin Active give hard fact and hearsay a workout

10 September 2017 - 00:00 By SHANTHINI NAIDOO
No matter how many crunches you do daily, your six-pack abs will never show unless your body-fat percentage is low enough.
No matter how many crunches you do daily, your six-pack abs will never show unless your body-fat percentage is low enough.
Image: Supplied

1. To stay in shape, you only need to work out once or twice a week

According to American College of Sports Medicine exercise guidelines, adults should exercise five days a week at 30 to 60 minutes of moderate intensity, or three days a week at 20 to 60 minutes of vigorous intensity.

2. The best time to work out is first thing in the morning

This depends on several factors. Listen to your body and train when you are at your best. Some of us feel more energetic in the morning as opposed to evening/late afternoon. Work requirements or family responsibilities also restrict us.

Scientists say that when building muscle, it is best to train in the late afternoon, when the body is close to anabolic state (this is when the body repairs tissue during rest or sleep).

Some research indicates that training first thing in the mornings is best if weight loss is the goal, as exercise will get the metabolism going to burn more fat during the rest of the day.

3. Weight lifting turns fat into muscle

Weight lifting does not turn fat directly into muscle. As muscle damage occurs during weight lifting, the body sends out signals to turn ingested proteins into new muscle tissue as a repair mechanism. Carbohydrates and fats are used as an energy source to fuel this process, and that is where fat is burned.

Weight training also increases your metabolism, which is good for the breakdown of fats.

4. Puzzles and games are the best "brain workout" around

Exercise is not only good for the muscles and heart, but for the mind, too. During exercise, the body releases endorphins. This is why, after activity, the mind feels "sharper" and you have an increased feeling of wellbeing. Cardiovascular exercise is a wonderful way to "clear" the mind.

5. Exercise is the best way to lose weight

When it comes to losing weight, there are quite a few things to consider. Exercise and healthy eating, drinking and sleeping habits are all very important for losing weight. Other factors are emotions, genetics, hormones, age and social influences.

In terms of exercise for weight loss, calorie expenditure should always be more than calorie consumption.

6. Sit-ups are the best way to get six-pack abs

No matter how many crunches you do daily, your six-pack abs will never show unless your body-fat percentage is low enough. That is why they say abs are made in the kitchen.

Of course, you can't just eat healthily, you have to combine this with core exercises that target the rectus abdominis (the six-pack area), obliques, which are on the side, and the transverse abdominis, which is the deep core muscle and most important when you want a strong core. You should do exercises to target the muscles from all angles.

7. Weight training is for men

Women of all ages and stages in life can benefit greatly from weight training. Moderate resistance training is recommended for women who are pregnant (it decreases back pain and improves urinary continence after birth) - although pregnant women should consult with a medical professional before embarking on resistance training. Resistance training strengthens muscles, increases stability in joints and improves bone density and bad posture.

Often women avoid weight training for fear of looking too muscular. Males have higher testosterone levels than women do, and the hormone plays an important role in the process of packing on muscle. Women should therefore not worry about getting a masculine build simply by doing weight training.

8. It takes at least two weeks to get "out of shape"

A person's body needs ongoing stimulus (exercise) to keep its muscle strength and cardiovascular fitness. When you stop training due to viral infections, work commitments or other factors, you can lose a certain percentage of your cardiovascular fitness and muscle strength in two to four weeks, depending on your muscle memory (the amount of exercise you did before the break). If you have good muscle memory, you are more likely to regain your strength and fitness quicker.

9. Running a marathon is the ideal way to get fit

Running a marathon is not always the best way to get fit. Not all of us have the time to spend hours running on the road every day, not to mention the safety aspect. Recent studies have shown that high interval training is more effective and less time-consuming.

If running an actual marathon or long-distance running are your goals, then spending time on the road running at a moderate intensity would be the better option. If you are restricted in terms of time, then try doing cardio exercises, which will spike the heart rate up between resistance exercises.

10. Sports drinks are the best way to re-hydrate after a workout.

Most sports drinks contain a lot of sugar, which is not necessarily what you need if you need to re-hydrate. Most of the time water will help you to re-hydrate. If you did excessive exercise in high temperatures, you may need something containing electrolytes such as potassium and sodium.

Low-fat milk would be our second source to go to if needed to re-hydrate. According to an article published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition in 2008, milk helps improve muscle formation and re-hydrates just as well as a commercial sports drink.