3 Fitness Myths Preventing You from Accomplishing Your Goals

Are these common fitness myths may be preventing you from accomplishing your goals?

Fitness Myths True False

The internet is filled with free workout videos, exercise videos, fitness books, etc. that provide advice about fitness and how to drop a few pounds. Like anything, some of the information is credible and some of it not so much. Unfortunately sometimes the false information becomes so pervasive that it actually comes to be accepted as fact by many people. Our friend and fitness expert Bob Bateson refers to these as fitness myths and he loves debunking them whenever he gets the opportunity. With more than 25 years working in the fitness industry, Bob often finds himself setting the record straight on a number of these myths. These are the three that he says he encounters most often.

fitness myths scale

Myth #1: Want to lose weight… consume fewer calories.
If you plug your gender and size into most fitness apps, you will probably be given a calorie goal of between 1200-1500 calories per day. Although this might happen to be accurate for you, these numbers are based on average body compositions that are likely different from yours. In reality your calorie goal should be based on a calculation known as your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR). This number is assessed by using your specific body composition to calculate the number of calories your body burns at rest in a 24-hour period. Put simply this is the number of calories your body needs to properly sustain life.
This means that if your BMR is 1500 calories and you are only consuming the recommended 1200 calories you are failing to provide your body with enough fuel to make it through the day (if you were resting). While this may seem to be producing favorable results in the short-term, over a period of time your body will begin to store calories in the form of fat to ensure survival.

Bottom Line: The best way to manage your weight is to understand how your body works and to use weight reduction strategies that cut the extra calories that are consumed in addition to your BMR. Which means that you may actually have to take in more calories.

fitness myth body builder

Myth #2: Strength training will make you look like a bodybuilder.
According to Bob, this may be the most common fitness myth that he hears, especially among women. The reality is that it is a big enough challenge for men, who have the added advantage of muscle producing testosterone to help them out, to add that type of muscle mass. Most women simply don’t have the biochemical composition to add enough muscle mass to get “bulky.” This myth often results in people skipping resistance training and doing only cardio (we’ll address that problem next).

 fat vs muscle fitness myths

The simple fact is that lean muscle takes up less space than fat. If you were to look at 1 lb. of muscle compared to 1 lb. of fat you would see that the fat is almost double the size of the muscle. There’s a tremendous difference between a person who weighs 200 lbs. with 5% body fat and a person who weighs 200 lbs. with 30-40% body fat. What’s better is that lean muscle mass helps your body burn more fat, this means that you get leaner.

Bottom Line: Strength training in the endurance work zone (12-15 Reps) will increase lean muscle mass, reduce fat, and have you looking leaner.

Active Lifestyle

Myth #3: You must do more cardio if you want to lose weight.
Although cardio makes you feel as if you got a great workout in and it is definitely convenient (No thinking involved, put on your iPod, set it, and go), the reality is that cardio alone burns fewer calories than weight training. In fact resistance training in the work zone (lifting the maximum amount of weight for a desired number of repetitions) can produce a calorie burn that is 3x’s higher than cardio.

Bottom Line: No, this doesn’t mean that you don’t have to do cardio. Having a strong cardiovascular system is essential to achieving your fitness goals. However, if your fitness goal is to burn fat, it is essential that you do your resistance training, in the work zone, first and save your cardio for the last 15-20 minutes of your workout.

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Cardio or Resistance Training?

 

 

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Why does exercise make us feel so good?

This is your brain on the couch

brain_sitting


This is your brain on exercise

brain_walking

ANY QUESTIONS?


Depending on your age,  you may or may not be familiar with the above reference. Throughout the 90’s there was a popular public service spot that showed a person holding up an egg and saying, “this is your brain.” They would then crack the egg into a hot frying pan and say, “this is your brain on drugs. Any questions?” It was a simple but powerful spot that effectively demonstrated that doing drugs causes harm to the brain. Since that time technology has advanced to a point where functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) has allowed us to capture actual images of how the brain responds to various activities. Using this technology scientists have been able to generate pictures like those above and  uncover the science behind something that we already know; exercise is not only good for us… it makes us feel good too. But why?

Increased Endorphin Levels:

Endorphins are chemicals that our bodies produce in response to various stimuli such as: pain, excitement, love, sex, and (you guessed it) EXERCISE. Endorphins act as neurotransmitters connecting pathways within the brain, blocking pain receptors and creating an overall sense of well-being or happiness.  The term endorphin is actually derived from the words endogenous (created internally) and morphine (an opium-based narcotic typically used for pain relief) which provides further insight into the effects that endorphins have on the brain.

A number of studies have been done that link exercise to increased endorphin levels. One such study was performed by the Department of Health and Sport Science at the University of Richmond, VA. The study found that the endorphin levels in a test group were nearly 39% higher after exercising for 45 minutes. The invorgation and positive sensations created by these high endorphin levels is often referred to as a “runner’s high” and can last for a couple of hours after completion of the exercise.

exercise bike

Increased  Dopamine Levels:

Also contributing to this extended “high” is dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter (chemical substances that transfer signals to neurons) that is at the heart of our brain’s reward center. When our body experiences a reward (something  it perceives as good) the neurons release dopamine which then binds with the dopamine receptors on neighboring neurons; quickly spreading the message that whatever we are doing right now is good and we should keep doing it. Typically once the message has been passed, the dopamine is reabsorbed and recycled for future use. Many addictive drugs like cocaine, heroine, and caffeine effect dopamine levels by blocking the removal of dopamine from the communication process. This leaves the neurons overloaded with dopamine and the users feeling a heightened state of pleasure long after the activity is completed and craving more when the dopamine is finally removed.

Dopamine Pathways. In the brain, dopamine play...

Dopamine Pathways. In the brain, dopamine plays an important role in the regulation of reward and movement. As part of the reward pathway, dopamine is manufactured in nerve cell bodies located within the ventral tegmental area (VTA) and is released in the nucleus accumbens and the prefrontal cortex. Its motor functions are linked to a separate pathway, with cell bodies in the substantia nigra that manufacture and release dopamine into the striatum. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A number of studies have shown a positive correlation between exercise and dopamine production. When we exercise the rewards center of our brain is activated and our neurons release a large amount of dopamine. These high levels of dopamine take longer to reabsorb and remain in the synapses longer. This creates a natural effect that is similar to the one created by drugs, where the individual experiences pleasure for an extended period after the activity has been completed.

There are a number of other factors that contribute to our overall  sense of feeling good after exercise, but endorphins and dopamine are two of the primary contributors. Exercising daily ensures that we are at our best: physically, mentally, and emotionally.

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