You have one of the best tools to stay in shape, and it’s virtually free. Talk about exercise and its many benefits to the body, including, but not limited to, building stronger bones and muscles, warding off diseases, and helping in weight management. This regular physical activity maintains your body like a well-oiled machine.
But exercise, like any health and fitness topic, has its share of myths that are widely accepted as facts. It is a challenge to separate the truth from fiction when the line itself is a bit blurred.
Still, it’s always a worthwhile exercise to debunk myths and provide more details to common assumptions, as noted below.
Myths 1 and 2: Physical Activity and Exercise Are the Same
The World Health Organization makes the distinction:
Physical activity happens when the skeletal muscles of the body produce movement that expends energy. This activity can take the form of exercise, household chores, and work.
Exercise occurs when you engage in a physical activity that is planned, structured, and repetitive. The general purpose is to improve your health and fitness, although you can have specific goals like strengthening your core, toning abdominal muscles, and developing biceps.
Essentially, every exercise is a physical activity; not every physical activity is an exercise.
A Myth within a Myth
According to the WHO, the lack of physical activity is the fourth cause of deaths around the world. The problem with lumping exercise and physical activity together is that people tend to believe that only activities that are done for a long period count.
This belief is not true at all because brief episodes of physical activity, like taking the stairs, when taken as a whole, can be beneficial to the body. It is thus recommended to move many times a day.
Myth 3: Exercise Equals Weight Loss
You burn calories when you exercise—some types burn more calories than others. Here’s the catch: you can only burn about 10 to 30 percent of the food you eat every day through physical activity that includes exercise. In some cases, the action can make you eat more because you are hungrier or you want to “reward” yourself for burning a lot of calories during the workout.
What this all means is that exercising can help you lose weight, but you can’t rely solely on it to get rid of excess pounds or kilos. The formula for weight loss is energy expenditure must exceed energy intake. So you have to burn more calories than what you consume by healthy eating and regular exercise, among other things.
Myth 4: Stretching Prevents Injuries
Stretching has become a prerequisite to any exercise, workout, or physical activity. This warm-up is said to promote better performance and prevent injuries by loosening the muscles and making one more flexible.
However, the following research shows otherwise:
~A 2004 research called the relationship between stretching and injury prevention obscure, noting that no conclusive statements can be made about the two.
~The Varsity cited a 2005 study that found no evidence of reduced rates for injuries because of stretching. Another study showed that it might make one susceptible to injury if done incorrectly.
~The British Journal of Sports Medicine published an infographic stating that static stretching doesn’t decrease injury risk when running.
Dynamic stretching, however, may offer a better alternative as it involves movement. By way of supporting your muscles, you can apply an elastic sports tape. Athletic tapes also work to help relieve pain and injury as you train for your game.
Myth 5: Exercise before a Drug Test Helps You Pass It
The popular belief goes that you need to do intense exercises before a drug test to pass it. This hack has been known mainly in beating drug tests that detect for tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and its metabolites in bodily fluids. THC is responsible for marijuana’s mind-altering effects.
Exercise can indeed help flush out drug toxins out of the body, sweating out THC stored in fat cells. However, it’s not recommended to exercise 24 hours within the drug test because it can increase THC concentrations in the blood.
Passing a drug test requires a combination of natural detox and supplements to be clear of THC. Read these tips.
We’ve undoubtedly uncovered common misconceptions about exercise, setting the right expectations about the activity. What are other myths are you aware of? Share them in the comments section.