Real Health Podcast: Top 10 fitness myths busted
At this time of year there are an abundance of health and fitness myths and misconceptions out there.
And after a holiday of overindulgence it's easy to see why we are all desperate to latch on to a quick fix.
But these fads and gimmicks do not work, and are not good for your long term health.
This week on the Real Health Podcast, Karl Henry debunks through ten fitness myths.
1) Sit ups will give you a six pack
We all have a six pack what differentiates one person from the next is the quantity of fat covering your abdominal area.
Visible muscle definition depends on the amount of fat you are carrying, and your body shape. "If you have an apple shape it's hard to see clear muscle definition in that area," Karl said. "Sit ups do not tackle the fat."
If you want to lost weight around your middle, cardiovascular work is the key. "But more importantly it is all about food. We need lots of lean proteins, and plenty of vegetables to cut down on excess fat.
2) Working out needs to be a killer
Many people believe that a work out is only effective if it is extremely difficult and they are in bits afterwards.
Karl believes this is a negative way to approach fitness - if you are dreading working out, you are less likely to head to the gym.
"It can be a turn off," Karl said. "That's one way of working out - it suits some people but is it healthy for the general population? No it's not. Exercise should be fun and challenging and enough to change the body."
Should you be sore after a workout? "A little pain is good," Karl said. "But any trainer who makes you ache after a first session is inexperienced, and irresponsible and not worth the money you are paying them... it also increases the chances of injury".
Remember there are so many ways to maintain and achieve fitness - it needn't be high intensity all the time. Yoga, and Pilates are great examples of low impact but hugely rewarding modes of exercise.
3) Running is better than walking
"Running is only better than walking if you enjoy it more," Karl said. "People think it is better because it is harder. But the key is challenge. Your sport has to be challenging enough for the body to change - so you should be out of breath but still able to hold a conversation while you are doing it.
"Running is not better than walking. It places more pressure on joints and increases your injury profile. walking is great - free and simple and beneficial to the body."
4) Weights will make me bulky
Many women worry that weight training will make them appear more bulky but this is a common misconception. It is actually very difficult for women to build muscle mass as you don't have testosterone.
"Weights are crucial for good fitness and health," Karl said. "They deliver more benefits than any other form of exercise, in terms of fat burn and muscle retention. The more weights you lift the healthier you will be."
5) It's possible to be too old for exercise
"I don't buy into this at all," Karl said. "In fact, the older you are the more crucial exercise will be in your life."
As you get older your muscle levels deplete. As muscle helps build stability, you can become less steady on your feet if you stop exercising. Working out is also incredibly important for maintaining good mental health as it helps release feel good endorphins.
"My oldest client was 84 and I have loads of clients in their 60s and 70s. You are never too old to work out," Karl said.
6) Muscle is heavier than fat
"This is not true. A pound of feathers weighs the same as a pound of lead," Karl said. "They are two separate elements. What is different is the amount of space they take up".
Muscle is very compact, firm and solid. Whereas A pound of fat takes up more space and it is squidgy. If you want to become slimmer than you should focus on reducing the volume of fat on your body.
7) Health is expensive
"This is total nonsense," Karl said. "Take €25 and buy exclusively fruit and vegetables - you will be shocked how much you can buy. They are no more expensive than unhealthy foods."
While eating healthy is inexpensive, gyms memberships often come with a hefty price tag. If signing up to a gym is beyond your budget don't worry - walking, press ups and squats are all free, and are great for retaining fitness levels.
8) Fitstagram is real
"The fitness Instagram accounts are fake," Karl said. "They are using apps to make them look a certain way. It is not real."
Karl recommends following authentic accounts that educate and inform you about health, rather than influencers who post a lot of selfies.
"I don't get why people follow the fitness influencers who basically post naked selfies all day," he said. "I don't know what you get from it for a health point of view. I don't see how following someone who uploads of photos of themself sticking their bum out at a certain angle is doing anything to encourage you to work out. If anything it's demotivating. Chose fitness accounts carefully."
9) The 10,000 step rule is golden
The 10,000 steps a day rule has become accepted as the key to staying fit. But in reality it is nothing more than a marketing ploy. What is important however is the intensity of those 10,000 stepsl. If you have been power walking - great. If however you racked up 10,000 steps strolling about then it's of less benefit.
"Those 10,000 need to be intense to get the heart rate up," Karl explained. "A lot of trackers now track active calories and steps which is great."
10) Spot reduction is possible
"I have a lot of people asking to reduce the size of their arm or waist line," Karl said. "But you cannot pick a body part and ask it to change."
Physiology doesn't work that way. If you want to target an area it needs to be part of an complete health overhaul based on a three prong approach tackling your food, cardio, and resistance training.
For more episodes and information from the Real Health podcast you can also go to: https://www.independent.ie/podcasts/the-real-health-podcast/
The Real Health podcast with Karl Henry in association with Laya Healthcare.
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