Exercise Lies and Myths

"Feed a cold, starve a flu and workout on an empty stomach" Wives tales, misconceptions, myths... life is full of them and so is exercise and fitness. The body is complex, knowing exactly what action caused which response is difficult at best.

To help stop the madness, Fitness Management Magazine has debunked six common health-related notions that have lead some people to eschew exercise completely. Drum roll please...

"Feed a cold, starve a flu and workout on an empty stomach..." wives tales, misconceptions and myths, life is full of them and so is exercise and fitness. The body is complex, knowing exactly what action caused which response is difficult at best.

To help stop the madness, we've debunked six common health-related notions that have lead some people to avoid exercise completely. Drum roll please...

1. Increased Heart rate improves fitness

If this idea were true, criminals, airline pilots, and anyone under cross-examination would rate as some of the fittest people around. In reality, heart rate is merely an indication of physical activity, nervousness, illness and state of mind. 

2. Endurance athletes can't get heart disease

This quackery reached its zenith in the 1970's when the so-called "Bassler hypothesis," stated that marathon runners were immune to heart disease. The death of author and running guru Jim Fixx to a heart attack while jogging killed that theory (sorry, we had to). While highly trained endurance athletes have a lower risk for heart disease, if there is a history of heart trouble in the family and you live on a diet of cheeseburgers and fries, you're just as susceptible as the late John Candy was to a heart attack.

3. Hours of exercise is better than minutes

Sustained physical efforts greatly enhance conditioning and weight loss compared to short outbursts of effort. A Stanford University study found that people who completed three 10-minute runs at a moderate pace three times per day were just as fit as those who ran 30-minutes a day, five times a week. However, endurance events (marathons, bicycle races, cross-country skiing, etc.) still require endurance training. 

4. You only have so many heart beats

 Without question, everyone has a prescribed amount of life (2 to 3 billion heartbeats) on earth. Working out, however, won't send you to an early grave. In fact, a conditioned heart will actually beat more slowly at rest - thus, saving heartbeats. Individuals shouldn't worry about wasting precious heartbeats to exercise. 

5. Exercise feeds the appetite 

Who hasn't returned from a hard workout feeling hungry? It's a natural response to caloric expenditure. But, the idea that increased activity promotes glutinous behavior at the dinner table is ridiculous. In fact, just the opposite is the case in numerous athletes whose appetite suppression is believed to be caused by physiologic responses, including lactic acid, plasma catecholamines and core temperatures. 

6. Spot reduction works 

Although the topic of numerous infomercials, ad campaigns and fad diets, spot reduction is pure fiction. While increased cardiovascular activity promotes the expenditure of calories, simply ridding them from the stomach, thighs, love handles, etc. just isn't possible. A study conducted by the University of Massachusetts found that subjects who did 5,000 sit-ups all lost the same amount of fat from their thighs, butts and stomach.


This information and other information on this site is intended for general reference purposes only and is not intended to address specific medical conditions. This information is not a substitute for professional medical advice or a medical exam. Prior to participating in any exercise program or activity, you should seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health professional. No information on this site should be used to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any medical condition.