Fitness Myths

Wayne Pallas By Wayne Pallas, 17th Aug 2015 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Health>Exercise & Fitness

The fitness industry is replete with all sorts of claims for supplements, exercise routines, special equipment, etc., usually designed to convince the gullible to buy something that probably is not very beneficial. On this page, I list seven claims that are untrue and why I believe they are untrue.

Myth Busters

Ads for fitness programs and supplements are full of claims that are often deliberately misleading in order to convince you to buy their product. Often, a little research can reveal the truth.

Here are seven claims that simply are not true:

1. “If you exercise, you need to supplement with anti-oxidants.”

The usual argument is that you breathe harder when you exercise, which means you intake more oxygen. Excess oxygen leads to the creation of free radicals, which attack tissue. Anti-oxidants neutralize free radicals so obviously you need to take supplements that contain anti-oxidants if you exercise.
The problem with this line of thinking is that the human body is actually pretty good at creating the necessary anti-oxidants to neutralize free radicals. If you are concerned about oxidation/free radicals, your best bet is to be sure you get a variety of foods that include fruits/vegetables, fish, and meat that contain significant levels of anti-oxidants like Omega 3 fatty acids, and CoQ10. You really don't need to spend money on supplements! (see:

2. “You should eat 15 servings of fruits and vegetables daily.”

My main issue with this statement is that it doesn't define what one serving is. If one serving is ¼ cup, I could agree because the USDA recommends 4-5 cups of fruits and vegetables daily ( and Rather than simply accept a statement like this thrown out in an ad for some supplement or nutrition plan, go with a fairly reliable authority like the USDA.

3. “Chronic cardio increases belly fat and speeds aging.”

Another similar statement I've read says, “Running makes you age faster”. I don't know where this comes from! Certainly cardiovascular exercise, including running, can have its drawbacks, but in my 50 years of running, I can't recall meeting a runner who looked older than their peers, and they all certainly moved better (unless they were injured).
The latest research shows that regular aerobic exercise, with sufficient intensity, actually slows down the aging process. "Telomeres, the biological clocks of cells, get shorter as people age, yet research on 50-year-old competitive marathon runners, published in 2009 in the journal 'Circulation,' showed that the middle-aged runners had telomeres that were as long as 20-year-olds." (from:

4. “Stretch before workouts to avoid injury.”

Research has consistently shown that stretching before a workout does nothing to reduce injury. That doesn't mean stretching is harmful! But it is probably more beneficial to stretch after a workout when your muscles are warmed up.

5. “If you don't workout, your muscle will turn to fat.”

Muscle cannot morph into fat any more than fat can magically turn into muscle. It is true however that if you are not exercising and your weight has remained the same, your muscle to fat ratio has likely changed. Muscle that is not used atrophies.

6. “Do lots of crunches if you want a 6 pack.”

Everyone has a 6 pack, even if you can't see it. The anatomical name for a 6 pack is “rectus abdominus”, and its shape resembles a six pack of soda or beer. Working it will not make any difference if it is covered by a layer of fat so losing the fat is the only way you will see the 6 pack.

7. “Exercising in the “fat-burning zone” is the best way to burn fat.”

A better way to burn fat, according to research, is “high intensity interval training” (HIIT). “Tabata” is one example of HIIT, and a personal trainer can help you design a program of HIIT to help you burn the fat. Besides, there is really no such thing as a fat-burning zone. All movement burns calories, some of which are from stored fat. Intensity changes the ratio of stored carbs (glycogen) to store fat that is burned, but regardless of the intensity, the longer you move/workout, the more calories you will burn overall.


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Meet the author

author avatar Wayne Pallas
I am a retired public school teacher. I have degrees in music, mathematics, education, and several personal training certificates.

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author avatar Thisisthelist
13th Oct 2015 (#)

Great article. Reliable sources matter. It's understandable that those with a vested interest to sell will put out bad info, if they think it will help them to sell. What's harder to understand is when their misinformation gets REPEATED by those who have nothing to gain, and plenty to lose, if they cleave to misinformation. But people often respond to hyperbole or wild claims because they can be easily memorized or it's just more hyped up and interesting to people.

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