Breakthrough These 7 Exercise Myths for Better Health

Posted by on August 11, 2015 in Exercise and Fitness, Health with 0 Comments

By Dr. Mercola

If you want to be optimally healthy and happy with energy and vitality to spare, exercise is essential.

Most people are well aware of this, yet many still don’t make the time for it. Excuses abound; from “not having enough time,” to “if you can’t be consistent, there’s no point in even beginning.”

A number of fitness myths may be holding you back. Nutrition Action1 recently listed 10 exercise myths you’re best off ignoring. I’ve also written about a number of fitness fallacies in previous articles.  Here are my top seven picks of the bunch, in no particular order.

Myth #1: Weight Training Will Make Women Look Too Bulky

Many women ignore strength training because they don’t want to “bulk up.” This is a mistake, as gaining more muscle has many benefits, from losing excess fat to maintaining healthy bone mass, and preventing age-related muscle loss as you get older.

Women, even heavy weight lifters, are not likely to gain excessive bulk simply because they have less muscle tissue and produce lower testosterone levels than men.

For a woman to turn into the Hulk, she’d have to be graced with exceptional genes, work out like a professional athlete, and take anabolic steroids, so ending up looking like a man really isn’t a concern for most women.

Rounding out your exercise program with a one-set strength training routine will help you optimize all the possible health benefits of a regular exercise program, and that includes “anti-aging” benefits as well.

In fact, strength training has a beneficial impact on at least 10 biomarkers of aging (i.e. factors indicative of biological age), including:

Strength and muscle mass (which results in greater balance, as you get older)Body compositionBlood lipids
Bone densityCardiorespiratory fitnessBlood pressure
Blood glucose controlAerobic capacityGene expression and telomere length

Myth #2: It’s Dangerous to Start Exercising When You’re Older

You are never too old to start exercising. In fact, research shows that, no matter how old you are when you start, you can gain significant improvements in strength, range of motion, balance, bone density, and mental clarity through exercise.

For example, consider the following scientific findings:

  • Even a small amount of exercise may protect the elderly from long-term memory loss and even help reverse some of the effects of aging2
  • Women between the ages of 75 and 85, all of whom had reduced bone mass or full-blown osteoporosis, were able to lower their risk of falling with strength training and agility activities3
  • Moderate exercise among those aged 55 to 75 may cut the risk of developing metabolic syndrome, which increases heart disease and diabetes risk4
  • Among those who started exercising at age 50 and continued for 10 years, the rate of premature death declined dramatically, similar to giving up smoking and mirroring the level as seen among people who had been working out their entire lives5
  • A combined aerobic and resistance exercise program improved physical function, muscle strength, and symptom severity among heart failure patients6

My mother is a perfect example of how exercise can benefit the elderly. She began a workout program in 2010 while still recovering from a fall in 2009 in which she fractured both her shoulder and wrist. Exercise has been extremely helpful to her in regaining strength, balance, and flexibility.

Exercise will also help you avoid weight gain, which tends to creep up on you as the years go by. As noted in the featured article:7

“It’s a matter of reduced physical activity levels and lower metabolic rate caused by a loss of lean body mass [muscle],’ says JoAnn Manson of Harvard Medical School.

‘The lifelong loss of lean body mass reduces our basal metabolic rate as we age,’ says Arkansas’s William Evans. ‘It’s a very subtle change that begins between ages 20 and 30. The percentage of body fat gradually increases, and it produces an ever-decreasing calorie requirement.’”

This goes back to myth #1. Muscle cells burn more calories than fat cells, so simply carrying more muscle on your frame helps you use up more calories even when you’re not exercising.

Myth #3: Walking Is Useless

Chronic sitting is the new smoking, raising your risk of an early death from poor health independent of your fitness and other lifestyle habits.  In fact, the medical literature now contains over 10,000 studies showing that frequent, prolonged sitting — at work, commuting, and watching TV at night — significantly impacts your cardiovascular and metabolic function.

Walking more is an excellent remedy that virtually everyone would benefit from, even if you have a regular fitness program. My personal recommendation is to use a two-pronged approach: a) limit sitting to less than three hours a day, and b) walk 7,000 to 10,000 steps per day, over and above any regimented exercise you may be doing. I personally walk around 15,000 steps a day

A fitness tracker can be a helpful tool to ensure you’re hitting your mark. Once you’re in the habit of walking more, consider switching up the pace, interspersing bouts of speed walking followed by more casual strolling.

Numerous studies show that it is this intermittent high and low intensity that appears to produce the most significant results. So simply by exerting yourself intermittently when walking, you can dramatically increase the return of your effort without spending any extra time on it.  Walking is also an excellent option if you’re so out of shape and/or overweight that the very idea of exercising seems too daunting to even attempt. Walking is among the easiest exercises to perform, no matter what your age or fitness level.





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