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Five Exercise Myths Debunked

Get the real facts on common exercise misconceptions before you head to the gym.

We have all fallen victim to the myths surrounding exercise. You find yourself talking to a friend at the gym, and she tells you that she
heard from a friend of a friend about a new exercise program that guarantees weight loss. Your friend has tried it and has experienced “fantastic” results, so you begin to contemplate trying it, too.

This is the beginning of a cycle of myths that surround exercise. Below are some of the more common myths and the real facts behind those myths.

Doing crunches will get rid of belly fat. According to WebMD.com, doing crunches may not help you lose belly fat simply because it is not possible to pick the places of your body where you want to lose the fat. “Doing crunches will help to make your core stronger, but there is no such thing as spot reduction,” said Craig Castor, certified athletic trainer and supervisor, sports medicine and rehabilitation
at Allegheny General Hospital, which, along with , is part of the West Penn Allegheny Health System.

If you are not working up a sweat, you are not working out. “Wrong,” Castor said. “Studies show that as little as 15 minutes a day can be beneficial. You should be more concerned about working out in your target heart rate zone.” WebMD.com suggests that activities such as taking a walk or doing some light weight training may not cause you to break a sweat, but are still just as beneficial for your
health.

Machines are safer because they ensure you are doing the exercise correctly. People may assume that because all they need to do is get on a machine and set the amount of weight they want to lift, that the machine will do the rest, including putting your body in the right position and helping you to perform the movements correctly. But, according to WebMD.com, this is only true if the machine is
adjusted to your specific height and weight. “Machines can still be dangerous if the person using them is not properly trained on how to use them,” Castor explained. “When in doubt, consult an exercise professional who will show you how to use the machine safely.”

No pain, no gain. “Thinking no pain, no gain during exercise can be dangerous,” Castor said. “Work within your limitations, and listen to your body. If the exercise you are doing is painful, your body is telling you to cut back.” Subscribing to the “no pain, no gain” theory holds the most potential for harm, according to WebMD.com. While you should expect to feel some degree of soreness a day or two after your
workout, that is different from feeling pain during your workout.

If you feel okay during exercise, you are likely not overdoing it. According to WebMD.com, the biggest mistake people when it comes to exercise is trying to do too much, too soon. This is especially common when people are returning to exercise after some time away, as they try to get back to where they left off. But, even though you feel okay during your workout, this does not mean you will not feel
something later. “Delayed onset muscle soreness, known as DOMS, occurs 24 to 48 hours after your workout,” Castor explained. “It pays to be smart with your workouts!”

For more information about sports medicine at Allegheny General Hospital, visit www.wpahs.org.

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