Image of the feet of several people walking on a treadmill.

Five exercise myths busted

Bulls don’t hate the color red, you can swim after you eat, and cracking your knuckles won’t give you arthritis – these are just some myths you’ve probably been made to believe. It’s actually surprising to think about how many myths are floating around us – many of then unquestioned – all the time, but some myths are safer to believe than others.

Exercise myths to watch out for

When it comes to exercise and working out, falsehoods can be especially harmful, and there are plenty of them floating around. This sort of misinformation can affect your health, so it’s good to be able to separate fact from fiction. Here are five commonly-held beliefs about exercise that we’re ready to debunk.

Treadmills measure calories accurately

To be fair, treadmills will never be able to give you a perfect estimate for calories burned, because they simply can’t take certain factors into account. A treadmill won’t know your resting metabolic rate, which determines how many calories you need to eat every day, and it can’t measure your exercise efficiency. Your fitness level also determines how fast you burn calories. Instead of looking at the ‘calories burned’ monitor, focus on other health goals like duration and intensity of exercise.

Exercise should be painful

This myth explains why thousands of people quit the gym two weeks after they start. Many people believe that to really exercise, you have to go 110% every time. A little burn is fine; in fact, it’s to be expected with exercise. But any sharp, stabbing pain, especially if it happens in your joints or chest, definitely means that something might be wrong. This is actually the best way to determine if your pain is serious: stop exercising and see if the pain goes away. To prevent exercise-related pain, always warm up before you exercise, and cool down afterwards.

Walking isn’t enough for exercise

This one couldn’t be farther from the truth – if anything, walking is the original exercise. Walking briskly for 30 minutes a day can be an enjoyable way to meet the physical activity recommendations from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The longer you work out, the better

A lot of research actually shows that short, intense workouts – sometimes referred to as interval training – have the same health benefits as longer ones. And in some cases, they’re even better for you. An example of a good short workout would be walking for three minutes and then running for one minute, for a 30-minute period. Not only might it be better for you, but it gives you more time to spend doing things other than working out.

You shouldn’t work out if you’re sore

As mentioned above, a sharp or stabbing pain somewhere in your body long after you exercise might be a sign of an injury. This said, if you’re sore from yesterday’s workout, you can absolutely exercise today. General soreness from exercise just means that you’re doing something your body isn’t used to, which is pretty much ideal right now. Another myth about exercise soreness is that you didn’t have a good workout unless you’re sore afterward. The truth? Fitness is your ultimate goal, not an inability to walk up the stairs the next day.

The bottom line

When it comes to exercise, don’t get too bogged down in all the information that’s out there. But try to investigate any potential myths before you build your workout around them – you might find that you’ve been believing some myths all along!

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