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3 exercise myths debunked!

By Lauren Charlton, Physiotherapist and Lee Ajzenman, Physiotherapist

We look at the facts and fiction about three common exercise myths.

Myth 1—You must stretch before you exercise

We’ve seen it in the movies, on the pavement and at the gym… people holding stretches before they exercise.

Is it harmful? Maybe not. Is it helpful? Maybe not.

A lot of research has been done to find out what is the best thing to do before you exercise. Whether you are going to do a lap around the block or a marathon, a yoga class or a HIIT class, the general conclusion is that an active warm up wins out across the board.

This means, moving your body parts through their range of motion, rather than standing still and holding a stretch. So, get moving, slowly and gently to prepare your body to move more.

Myth 2—Doing sit ups will give you a flat stomach

While doing sit ups or any other abdominal exercise properly will develop strength and endurance in your tummy and core muscles, they will not always lead to a flat stomach or that ‘six pack’ you have always dreamed of. Sigh.

Your genetics also play a role in where you tend to store fat.  People store and shed body fat in different places at different rates, so for some people, the tummy may be the most stubborn place to get rid a spare tyre or even a small, healthy layer of fat. Keep this in mind and set realistic goals, or seek guidance from a physiotherapist, dietician or trainer.

Focusing on a healthy diet and well balanced exercise routine that includes strength, mobility and cardiovascular training will help you get into your optimal shape, both inside and out.

Myth 3—High intensity exercise is always high impact

Have you ever skipped past the high intensity classes on your timetable at your gym or on your training program with fear that it just involves jumping about and painful/ harmful movements?

Think again!

High intensity refers to the intensity of the exercise rather than how much impact there will be on your joints and muscles.

Intensity can be increased through:

  • Incline
  • Speed
  • Repetitions
  • Weight
  • Reducing rest periods.

Here are some examples of how high intensity, doesn’t have to be high impact:

  • Walking uphill, faster than your normal speed or holding arm weights.
  • Swimming with a pool buoy between your thighs, using a kickboard (to focus on the intensity in your legs and core muscles) or by not taking a rest break between laps.
  • Increasing the resistance when using a stationary bike or aiming for a faster cadence (rpm).

There may be a reason why the word ’high impact‘ makes you cringe, whether it is pain, injury, specific health conditions or general concern. If you are not sure how to include high intensity exercise in your week, ask a health professional such as a physiotherapist. They can help you slowly and safely introduce some intensity into your activities.

Your body will reward you for sneaking in some high intensity exercise from time to time with improved cardiovascular fitness, strength and endurance, a better night’s sleep and better mood! Benefits all ‘round!

Last updated: July 10, 2020 at: 1:13 pm