Just like fashion fads that come and go, diet and exercise fads are common and can confuse college students trying to stay healthy. Getting in shape requires finding a diet and exercise routine that works for you and your body while simultaneously sorting through classic “workout myths.” Unfortunately, it’s easy to believe everything you hear or read and get caught up in workout trends. Here are some common myths about exercise and the actual truth about fitness.
Myth: Lifting weights will make me look like a man.
Truth: Many girls in college completely avoid the weight section of the gym in fear that they will bulk up if they lift weights. However, lifting weights tones and strengthens the body. In fact, women generally don’t have the physiological makeup and testosterone levels necessary to bulk up like men unless they are using steroids. If you’re afraid to lift on your own, try a fitness class that incorporates a bit of lifting, such as a circuit class. On average, 5-7 pounds of muscle is lost every decade if you don’t strength train. Pick up those weights now to strengthen your body and stay strong as you grow older.
Myth: I only need to do cardio to stay in shape.
Truth: Cardiovascular exercise, like running, biking and dancing are just one piece of the workout puzzle. An optimal fitness program incorporates cardiovascular exercise, strength training, and flexibility. Strength training helps build lean muscle, increases your metabolism, and keeps you energized. Make sure to work on making a well-rounded fitness program.
Myth: Stretching is best prior to working out.
Truth: Stretching is very beneficial, but the best way to warm up before a workout is to do some light cardio that is much more effective than stretching. Try the elliptical, treadmill, or bike for 5-10 minutes before your workout. Light cardio prior to working out will get your blood flowing and prep your muscles for a great workout. Moreover, this will also help prevent injury. Static stretching is usually ideal to perform after your workout. Try out different techniques and see what works best for your body.
Myth: You need a long workout; if you don’t have time, just don’t bother.
Truth: It is very easy to get into an all-or-nothing mentality. If you can’t exercise for the 30 minutes a day that is recommended for adults, a shorter, intense workout is definitely better than no workout. When it comes to staying active, every movement you make throughout the day counts. You are much better off making the best out of the time you have. If you find yourself lacking time to exercise, try breaking up your exercise segments: 10 minutes in the morning, 10 in the afternoon, and 10 at night. Find what works best for you and stick with that!
Myth: Machines tell you exactly how many calories you burn during a workout.
Truth: Number of calories burned during a workout is based on several factors and is unique to everyone. Your calorie burn during exercise is influenced by your age, gender, height and weight. While machines at the gym might give you the opportunity to plug these numbers in, they are not always accurate. Instead of focusing on calorie burn, think about listening to your body. Heart rate is a better measure of intensity during a workout. Track your progress based on how your body feels.
Crazy fitness fads can be overwhelming, but sorting through these workout myths will help you find a fitness routine that works best for you. Focus on a program that incorporates cardiovascular exercise, strength training, and flexibility. Exercising during your college years will improve your health for years to come.
Photo Credit: Paige Swint