There are some ideas that have been floating around the gym for years, without question! It’s time to take a closer look. Health and fitness guru Claire Monroe of Weight Watchers helps us put to rest the top widespread fitness myths once and for all.
Myth: Women should only lift light weights, otherwise they'll end up looking like the Hulk.
Fact: Keep pumping iron. “Women have little of the hormone necessary for large increases in muscle mass, so even when a woman lifts heavier weights, the result is a more toned physique, not a bulky one,” Monroe says.
Top tip: When about 20 repetitions feel easy, it's time to increase the amount of weight or resistance to continue seeing results.
Myth: Yoga's great for flexibility, but doesn’t get your heart pumping enough to burn calories.
Fact: Not all yoga is created equal! “Some styles of yoga are calorie-burning powerhouses,” Monroe explains.
Top tip: Look for classes in flow or power yoga, or Ashtanga or Vinyasa styles. “All involve dynamic, rhythmic movements that target many of the body's major muscle groups,” Monroe says. In fact, a 2004 study from Adelphi University in New York found that power yoga could burn up to 9 calories a minute—that’s 540 calories an hour!
Myth: The more cushioning in your running shoes, the better.
Fact: “There's a different ‘right’ shoe for every runner. More or less cushioning is not necessarily better; what's important is that the shoes provide the correct amount of shock-absorbing support and comfort for you,” Monroe says. Some runners actually prefer the newfangled “minimalist” shoes that mimic the feeling of running barefoot; others need more support and protection.
Top tip: Visit a specialty running store where a trained staff member can analyze your gait to determine what type of shoe you need, and allow you to give shoes a test run.
Myth: If I'm not working up a sweat, I'm not working hard enough.
Fact: Sweatier doesn’t mean better. “A longer, less-intense walk can be just as effective as a shorter run,” Monroe notes. “Whether or not you're soaked during a workout is not an indicator of how hard you're working or how effective the exercise is. Activity at any intensity level provides improved weight management, better cardiovascular function, relief from stress and anxiety, and more.”
Fact: A 2010 report by the Surgeon General says that physical activity does not need to be strenuous to be effective, and recommends a moderate amount of daily activity.
Myth: Going to the gym is better than working out at home.
Fact: For some, yes. For others, no. It’s completely personal—so do what works for you! “Some people enjoy the camaraderie and motivation of a gym. Some prefer solo time. And for others, what they enjoy depends on the day, the weather, their mood or a host of other factors,” Monroe says.
Top tip: Stick with your workout routine, no matter where it happens!