Northwest NEWS

May 13, 2002


Fitness Fallacies and Facts

by Daniel R. Ball, MS
   OK, it's time to dispel some myths about exercise. This is a touchy subject with me because a day doesn't go by when I don't hear one of the many exercise fallacies. Granted there is conflicting information out there, but the key is who you listen to. For one, infomercials for exercise equipment are fraught with deception. They prey on people looking for an easy and quick fix to getting into shape. The bad news is there is no magic exercise, piece of equipment or pill that is going to turn you into the Rock or a supermodel. Sorry, it takes desire, work, and commitment.
   The good news is that just about everyone can succeed at improving his or hr health and fitness level through exercise. There are over 101 reasons to exercise regularly. Here are some common exercise myths:
   Myth: If you're not going to work out hard and often, exercise is a waste of time. Research continues to show that any exercise is better than none. For example, regular walking or gardening for as little as an hour a week has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease.
   Myth: Women, if you want to lose weight, stay away from strength training because you will bulk up. NOT! Strength training enhances your metabolism. More muscle (density not bulk) burns more calories, not just while you are working out, but throughout the whole day. One main culprit to weight gain is a decrease in muscle as we age. You lose about a half a pound of muscle a year after about the age of 25 unless you do something to maintain it. Between ages 25 and 50 you can lose up to 12 pounds of muscle.
   Myth: Working out in a gym is more beneficial than working out at home. Research has shown that some people find it easier to stick to a home-based fitness program. In spite of all the hype on trendy exercise programs and facilities, the "best" program for you is the one you will do consistently.
   Myth: Exercise is the one sure way to lose all the weight you want. Weight loss or gain is impacted by many factors, including dietary intake and genetics. All individuals will not lose weight at the same pace on the same exercise regime. Although exercise alone cannot guarantee your ideal weight, regular physical activity is one of the most important factors for successful long-term weight management.
   Myth: Yoga is a completely gentle and safe exercise. Yoga is an excellent form of exercise, but some styles are quite rigorous and physically demanding and therefore not for beginners. As with any form of exercise, qualified, careful instruction is necessary for a safe, effective workout.
   There are many more exercise fallacies, too numerous to cover here. If you have a fitness question, email it to me and I will do my best to answer it.
   Daniel R. Ball, MS is a Master Level Personal Trainer. He can be reached at (425) 844-4039 or