10 Stubborn Exercise Myths That Won’t Die, Debunked by Science

Normally I don’t make a whole post about one article, but this one was just too good to pass up. It was written on the Lifehacker website and it has made the rounds on all the social media networks. It is called 10 Stubborn Exercise Myths That Won’t Die, and it talks about some reasons why society as a whole believes the things that it does.

My goal with this whole Better Health Challenge is to educate you on the current research science and inform you what the best of science has to share with us. Not all science experiments are created equal and a lot of what passes as science is actually pretty wishy-washy. It takes some critical thinking to discern what is good science and what is bad science, and unfortunately a lot of the major news networks pass around a lot of bad science.

In any case, I will give a few brief thoughts of my own on these myths and potentially write longer articles on certain ones in the future. But here are the 10 Stubborn Exercise Myths that won’t die…

Myth 1: No Pain, No Gain (My thoughts… Too much pain could mean you are producing too much cortisol, which is our major stress hormone. Too much cortisol means absolutely no gains to be made at all. End of story.)

Myth 2: Soreness After Exercise is Caused by Lactic Acid Building Up in Your Muscles (My thoughts… As the article says soreness is created by the microscopic tears in your muscles. Lactic Acid is long gone by the time delayed muscle soreness sets in a day or two later.)

Myth 3: Exercise Takes Long Hours/Is Worthless If I Can’t Exercise Regularly – (My thoughts… Great benefits can be seen from exercise that is as short as an hour or two a week. Exercise doesn’t have to seem like “exercise” either as I explained in my article last week about walking.)

Myth 4: You Need a Sports Drink When Exercising to Replenish Your Body’s Electrolytes/Minerals/Etc (My thoughts… Whenever you hear BS like this you know someone is trying to sell you something. Just ask yourself what we did before sports drinks were invented. Unless you are running a marathon or working out for hours on end, you don’t need anything to replenish yourself. A simple breakfast, lunch, dinner, or snack after you exercise is all you really need. Wait, you do that anyhow? Then you are covered.)

Myth 5: Stretching Before Exercise Will Prevent Injury – (My thoughts… Oh stretching. What can I say about you? The article perhaps says it best that people often confuse “warming up” with stretching. I have always liked the advice to never stretch before your muscles have been warmed up which kind of prevents this confusion. I believe strongly that people should add in some “mobility work” to their workouts, but not necessarily stretching. This seems to be an area we need a whole article on so…)

Myth 6: Working Out Will Only Build Muscle, Not Help Me Lose Weight – (My thoughts… This one almost makes me want to pull my hair out. Working out is a great way to lose weight, but you have to do it intelligently. Certain exercises are better than others for fat loss, but in general a well designed workout plan along with a well designed eating plan will help you retain muscle at the same time you lose fat, which is the body composition you are looking for. Simply losing weight means you are probably losing fat and muscle at the same time which isn’t exactly the best case scenario.)

Myth 7: Exercise Will Help Me Lose Weight Quickly – (My thoughts… This goes hand in hand with the above myth. Here is a hard and fast rule folks… “More exercise = more hunger = more eating = less weight loss” Make sense? If you are obese you can lose weight very quickly with a well designed exercise and dieting plan, but the closer you get to the optimal weight for your height and gender, the slower you lose weight.)

Myth 8: You Need to Take Supplements to Build Muscle – (My thoughts… I love Whey Protein and Creatine, and all the amino acids, but you really don’t need them to build muscle. Again, it’s like sports drinks, someone is trying to sell you something. Do they work? Yep. Will they work for you? Maybe. Should you just buy a few more steaks instead of whey protein? Probably.)

Myth 9: If You Don’t Exercise When You’re Young, It’s Dangerous When You Get Older – (My thoughts… First off, don’t let anyone tell you what is and isn’t dangerous. Hopefully you can decide that for yourself. Exercise is almost imperative when you are old so that you can retain most of your abilities into old age. But again, it should be a well designed intelligent program. Can old people get hurt? Yes, but so can younger people. In any case, the benefits to exercise for the elderly outweigh any dangers they pose.)

Myth 10: Working Out at Home/Working Out at the Gym is Better than Working Out at Home/Working Out at the Gym – (My thoughts… Does it really matter as long as you are doing a well designed exercise program? What is well designed since I mention it so much? A well designed program is one in which you get the results you desire. End of story. You can achieve the results you want anywhere. This is just one more excuse for people not to exercise.)

These things really get me going, but they are worth talking about. It is hard to believe people still think these things are true, but I hear them all the time. You need to do this, or that, or the other thing. Just try some things out and see what works for you and what doesn’t. Take some time to do some research and bring a critical mind to the subject matter.

This is our 23rd challenge in The Personal Health Challenge Series…