It's not always clear where we've acquired fitness knowledge--was that fact pounded into you from elementary gym class? Or perhaps you read it in a magazine somewhere. But regardless of its origin, you now follow that advice in your day-to-day, right? (Credit: Shutterstock)
Well, not all exercise information--and there's a lot of it--is created equal, so it gets confusing. Do you work out hard all the time, or is it sometimes best to shoot for moderate intensity? Should you pop ibuprofen for post-workout soreness? And how long after exercising should you eat? We know what you've been told before, and now it's time to get the facts straight.
Most people, whether they know it or not, are guilty of following at least one outdated--or just plain lousy--piece of oft-repeated fitness instruction. We talked to fitness experts across the country and scoured medical journals to get to the bottom of some of the most widespread--and flagrant--exercise myths, and give you science-savvy, expert-approved solutions.
- Lisa Hoehn, The Active Times
While some models claim to be “joint-friendly,” or “low-impact,” the reality is that there are very few—if any—treadmills that function differently from a sidewalk. To truly take pressure off of your knees, opt for grass or sand outdoors and the elliptical or a stationary bike indoors, suggests Rachel Reddish, fitness manager at Crunch gym in NYC. Click here to see All Worthless Fitness Tips You Probably Follow Credit: Shutterstock
If you’ve already had a meal and you don’t have another workout planned for the day, there’s no rush to replenish, according to Ben Greenfield, personal trainer, coach, and author of Fueling Myths Exposed. Most studies that explore post-exercise nutrition replacement use subjects who have fasted, he explains, so results aren’t applicable to the general population. But, if you’re sweating it out first thing in the morning, sans breakfast, or have another training session later in the day, refueling promptly should be a priority—a 3:1 ratio of carbs to protein is just right. Credit: Shutterstock
It does—and the order you choose should depend on your fitness goals. “A cardio-first routine may increase your weight loss because your heart rate will continue to stay elevated during weight training,” says Sharon Huey, exercise physiologist and wellness coordinator at Chelsea Piers. “You’ll also have a higher core temperature, which can decrease your risk of injury.” What’s more, one study found that after a moderate-intensity cardio bout, men who lifted weights produced more testosterone, a key hormone for muscle growth and recovery, than those who began with resistance. If your goal is simply to increase muscle size, though, Huey suggests lifting first to avoid starting with fatigued muscles. Credit: Shutterstock
“There’s a difference between pain and discomfort,” Reddish says, “but sometimes it can be difficult to tell the difference.” Pain is your body’s way of telling you that you’re overusing (and potentially injuring) some joint, muscle, or tendon, whereas discomfort is more akin to fatigue, which is necessary in pushing your body to the next level. Sharp, acute pain, perpetually hurting post-workout and swelling are all signs that you’re at risk of being derailed by injury, and it’s time to ease off. “If you’re not sure how to read your body cues, start out by exercising with a fitness professional,” she adds. Credit: Shutterstock
“Remember, weight machines aren’t built just for you,” Boyd says. So while it’s easy to believe that they’ll guide you toward safe resistance, the truth is that you’re just as likely to make mistakes on a machine as you would with free weights or bodyweight exercises. “To avoid injury and master your form with any new resistance routine, work with a trainer or fitness professional.” Credit: Shutterstock
In fact, several studies have tested the cool down—and they’ve found that there’s almost no significant difference in muscle soreness or next-day ability in athletes who’d cooled down vs. those who hadn’t. But, as the New York Times points out, a cool down, physiologically, “feels nice,” and there’s been no research to say that some light jogging after a strenuous session has any negative effect on the body. The bottom line: if you like cooling down, then cool down; if you don’t, then don’t. Credit: Shutterstock
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