Exercise is confusing.
What type of exercise is best, how often, do I need to take supplements, should I see my doctor first, and so many more questions. The use of the internet for information can be even more confounding with the range of opinions, many of which are not backed up by sound research or years of experience in the industry.
Here are some common issues I have dealt with in my 40 years in the fitness industry.
1. – To lose weight you only need to reduce calories
If this were true, far more people would be successful. Cutting calories ultimately impacts your metabolism and contributes to the loss of muscle tissue. Exercise with caloric restriction builds muscle and helps your health in general – both physically and mentally.
2. Not enough time
Research shows that even 15 minutes of exercise every day has a positive impact on your health. The average person watches about two hours of TV a day.
3. The best way to lose weight is with cardio exercise
Cardio is vital to your heart health, but building muscle is more effective for weight loss. Muscle is dense and burns more calories, even at rest, so packing on lean tissue is the key to boosting your metabolism, like turning up your furnace.
4. If I lift weight, I will get ugly muscles
First, muscle is never ugly and what muscle gives you is tone. To tone up, you must build muscle and shed fat by burning calories by building muscle.
5. I need to check my pulse when I exercise and get it into the recommended target heart rate
Yes and no. Heart rate training is a feedback tool to help you push yourself harder to strengthen the heart muscle or know when to slow down. Heart formulas, however, are subject to error, especially in fit older adults and inappropriate for persons on medications that affect the heart. As a trainer, I prefer to teach the client the 1-10 perceived exertion scale. Even moderate exercise has a profound positive effect, so don’t think you need to reach a specific heart rate and soak your shirt in sweat to get a significant benefit.
6. I only need to exercise three times a week
The good news is if you do exercise three times a week, you are more active than most people. The approach I advocate for is being active every day. This does not mean you need to bust your butt every day. Workout hard one day and do a walk, swim, bike, yoga – really anything at all – on your recovery days between your primary training every two days.
7. I need to eat more protein if I exercise
Another yes and no answer. Exercise does increase protein requirements. However, the average person already has more protein in their diet than they need. Young bodybuilders are a different story.
8. Swimming is the best exercise for older people
Non-weight bearing exercise such as swimming has two shortcomings. The absence of gravity means it is an ineffective method for increasing bone density and less effective weight loss than weight-bearing exercise. For some people, swimming is the best option when there are joint issues or other medical concerns.
9. If I use a treadmill for 30 minutes and it says I only burned 200 calories, exercise is not worth it
There are many other benefits beyond calorie burning – improved moods, better balance, energy levels etc. Calorie expenditure during exercise is less important than the impact exercise has on elevating your metabolism after the exercise has stopped and the emotional benefits of feeling good.
10. We are more active now than 40 years ago when they started Particpaction ads.
The fact is society has never been so fat, and medical issues such as diabetes and metabolic syndrome are growing as fast as our waistlines. It’s never too late to start, and even if it’s just a walk around the block, the benefits can be enormous.
Ron Cain is a personal trainer with Sooke Mobile Personal Training. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.