Common Misconceptions about Exercise


By James Nisi

There’s a lot of misinformation flying around in regards to exercise, which can cause unrealistic goals and false perceptions. I could go on forever about this topic. I couldn’t, however, fit everything in this one article! So, instead, I’m going to just go over a few of the major misconceptions.

Low-intensity exercise burns more fat than high-intensity exercise
The fat burning zone. I’m sure you’ve all heard of it? When you work within a specific heart rate range, usually at lower intensities. This misconception is a delicate one, because there is some truth behind it. Exercising at lower intensities burns a higher percentage of fat out of your total calories burned; however exercising at higher intensities, while burning a lower percentage of fat out of your total calories burned, burns a higher total amount of fat. Let’s see an example:
Exercising at a low intensity, you may get 50% of your total energy used from fats. Therefore, in 30 minutes, if you burn 100 calories in total, 50 calories will be derived from fat.
Exercising at a higher intensity, you may only use fat as 30% of your total fuel source. However, in 30 minutes, if you burn 300 calories, around 90 calories burned are derived from fats.
So while low intensity exercise is great for people new to exercise, to really get a bang for your buck, crank up that workout!

Spot reducing
‘I’d like to lose from my stomach and arms, but I don’t want to lose from my bottom’. I’ve heard variations of this from a variety of people I’ve worked with. Unfortunately, spot reducing is just not possible.  Doing 100 sit-ups a day isn’t going to trim your stomach, nor are the latest gadgets off all those infomercials. What you will get though is a rocking set of abs, albeit not visible underneath that layer of fat that just won’t budge. An interesting little fact in regards to fat loss- the body parts you lose from first are generally those where you gained the weight from last. If the first place you gained weight was around your stomach, that’s generally the place that’s going to be your last hurdle in your weight loss. So it’s necessary to take a whole body approach to weight loss!

Strength training makes you bulky
A major turnoff for women is the idea that by lifting a few weights they’ll resemble a professional bodybuilder. I know plenty of people who only wish it were that easy to gain muscle. The time, effort and nutrition required to gain muscle is no easy feat. Plus, women have nowhere near the required testosterone levels to put on any significantly noticeable muscle. Resistance training strengthens the body, improving posture and reducing everyday risk of injury. It also increases your metabolic activity for up to 24-48 hours after you exercise. For anyone on a mission to get their ideal body, resistance training should be an integral part of that.

No pain, no gain
You should definitely not be feeling pain during exercise. Discomfort due to the workout? Yes. Fatigue? Yes. But not pain. Pain is your body’s way of telling you that it’s beginning to breakdown. I was talking to an associate of mine the other day (our conversation is what actually motivated me to write this specific piece), where she was talking of the troubles one of her patients was going through. This patient, going back 9 years ago, was an exercise junkie. Every day she was completing some form of exercise. She was completing some rope climbs with her personal trainer, when she started to feel some pain in foot. Her trainer encouraged her to push through the pain. Her foot cracked, breaking a metatarsal bone. In the past 9 years she’s had 26 operations on this foot, and she is still troubled by it, all because she didn’t listen to her body. So listen to your body and hear what it has to say when you exercise.

James Nisi is a 21 year old self-proclaimed athlete and full-time great guy (again, self-proclaimed). From Melbourne, Australia. Already qualified as an Exercise Scientist, he is close to completing his Masters of Exercise Physiology. Tries not to take life too seriously, fails when it comes to health and exercise. Also: dog-lover, movie-buff, gym-goer, food connoisseur, chef, wannabe traveler.

Twitter: @Nisi_06