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10 Fitness myths busted and what really works

Kathy A. Johnson is a freelance writer and editor in central Florida. Her work has appeared online and in print publications ranging from Mothers & More Forum to Horse Journal.

The truth about fitness myths

You’ve heard crunches are the cure-all for the lower belly pooch. You’ve seen fellow joggers lugging dumbbells on their treks. You’ve even tried working out hard every day to get fit because your friends tell you more is better. But, do these widely spread fitness myths really get the fitness job done? The truth is that fitness myths actually can keep you from exercising effectively, may put you at risk for injury, and even discourage you from working out at all because they set you up to have unrealistic expectations. Here we bust 10 fitness myths that may be keeping you from reaching your fitness goals.

Woman after intense workout

Fitness myth #6:

No pain, no gain.

Killian notes, "Pain is an indication that you're overtraining or that you're simply doing the exercise wrong. Repeated bouts of painful exercise can lead to injury and permanent damage. Only go to the point of mild discomfort." If you want to make sure you're working hard enough, Killian recommends using "perceived exertion," or how hard you feel your body is working based on physical sensations such as increased heart rate, respiration and muscle fatigue. (See the CDC's Perceived Exertion Scale for more information.)

Fitness myth #7:

Lifting weights give women bulky muscles.

To build big, bodybuilder-style muscles, you need plenty of testosterone. The average woman simply doesn't produce enough. What weight lifting will do is build strong muscles, and help you lose weight faster by increasing your metabolism. Muscle tissue burns more calories than fat tissue.

Fitness myth #8:

If you can't work out enough to lose weight, don't bother.

Many studies have demonstrated that physical activity improves health and quality of life. "Every system of the body benefits from exercise," says Killian. "It improves your mental attitude and also helps ward off heart disease, which is the number-one killer of women."

Fitness myth #9:

You can't work out too much.

Overtraining puts you at risk for injury and burnout. Some experts say that, in general, an hour a day is enough. Also, allow a day of rest between strength training sessions to give your muscles a chance to recover.

Fitness myth #10:

If you stop working out, your muscles will turn to fat.

It's physically impossible for muscle to turn to fat because they are two different types of tissues. You can lose muscle mass if you stop working out, and the result may be weight (fat) gain, particularly if you continue to eat as much as you did while you were working out and burning more calories.

Don't let fitness myths keep you from feeling and looking your best. Consult with a fitness professional if you have questions about an activity's safety.

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