There are many myths out there about the do’s and don’ts with exercise. Should you be drinking energy drinks? Do longer workouts mean better results? How much water is enough?
Myth 1: Stretching before a workout will prevent injuries.
Many professionals agree that static stretches, such as touching your toes or pulling your arms, are not what you should be doing before a workout. These stretches can pull on your muscles, which can cause them to become too loose. Being too loose can lead to injuries and hyperextension. Instead of static stretches, dynamic stretches are much more effective in preparing your muscles and joints for a workout. Dynamic stretches include lunges, arm swings, light jogs, and walking on your tiptoes. Static stretches should be saved for after workouts to cool down and to work out sore muscles (Davis). However, for many people stretching before a workout is necessary. Know what works with your body and keep this information in mind.
Myth 2: Stay hydrated by drinking even when you aren’t thirsty.
As it turns out, feeling thirsty is a good indication that you need to hydrate. By drinking constantly during a workout, you could be doing yourself more harm than good. In rare occasions, hyponatremia, or water intoxication, can occur when you overhydrate. This is when your sodium levels become dangerously low due to the over-consumption of water, and can be fatal. This is most common amongst athletes who exercise for long hours every day, but it can still occur during normal workouts (Davis). Most commonly, people get water-logged, which slows you down as you exercise and gives your stomach a sloshy feeling. Make sure to drink water, but only when your body tells you to!
Myth 3: “No pain, no gain.”
Working through discomfort is different than working through pain. Discomfort is normal, especially when you’re trying a new workout or upping the intensity. However, many people work through their pain because they think that’s what working out is supposed to feel like. If you’re experiencing pain while working out, you should stop and assess the problem to avoid serious injuries (Park). If you’re feeling sharp pains or it’s still difficult to breathe after taking a break, see a doctor or trainer to make sure you didn’t injure yourself. However, soreness and a burning feeling in your muscles is normal; it means that you were working hard!
Myth 4: Sports drinks are good for any kind of exercise.
Sports drinks, such as Gatorade and Powerade, have their benefits but not in every situation. When it comes to working out, your goal may be to burn calories. In low-intensity workouts, drinking sports drinks will counteract every calorie you’ve lost by giving you new ones. However, in high-intensity workouts or marathons, sports drinks are very beneficial. They replenish what is lost in sweat and sugar, as well as electrolytes, which is highly necessary to keep up your energy (Henry).
Myth 5: The longer the workout, the better.
Longer does not always mean better. The length of your workout should be inversely related to the intensity of it. If you’re doing a low-intensity workout, like a yoga class, it’s ok to spend more time on the mat. However, if you’re doing high-intensity aerobics, stick to a relatively short workout length of 20-30 minutes at most (Campbell). It’s all about knowing what your body can safely handle. Working out for hours on end can be more detrimental than helpful.
Myth 6: The more you workout, the quicker you’ll see results.
Much like Myth 5, you need to know what you’re body can safely handle while working out. More sessions does not mean more results; rest days are extremely important! You need to give your body a chance to recuperate from the stress you’ve put on it. On rest days, stretching and taking light walks would be beneficial to loosen your tightened muscles. By overworking them and exhausting your body, you could end up injuring yourself or setting yourself back from your fitness goals (Campbell).
If you’re interested in learning more about staying healthy, attend our Smart Eats program April 19 from 6 to 7PM in the State Conference Room. Smart Eats is completely free and very informational. Learn how to stay hydrated and prepare seasonal summer foods, as well as how caffeine affects your body (especially as finals week is quickly approaching!). Sign up here!
Campbell, Leigh. “Common Misconceptions And Myths About Exercise Explained.” HuffPost Australia, HuffPost Australia, 15 July 2016, www.huffingtonpost.com.au/2016/01/04/common-misconceptions-about-exercise_n_8908346.html.
Davis, Robert J. “Fitter Faster: 9 Common Myths About Exercise.” Time, Time, 16 May 2017, time.com/4779651/exercise-myths-heart-rate/.
Henry, Alan. “10 Stubborn Exercise Myths That Just Won’t Die.” Lifehacker, Lifehacker.com, 21 Mar. 2012, lifehacker.com/5895140/10-stubborn-exercise-myths-that-wont-die-debunked-by-science.
Park, Madison. “10 Exercise Myths That Won’t Go Away.” CNN, Cable News Network, 24 June 2011, www.cnn.com/2011/HEALTH/06/24/exercise.myths.trainers/index.html.