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The Most Common Fitness Myths


Consumers are constantly bombarded with fitness information and “expert” advice from questionable sources. The American Council on Exercise (ACE) recently conducted a survey of more than 1,500 ACE-certified fitness professionals to discover the exercise myths that they most commonly hear from their clients. The following are their top responses:

Women who lift weights will get bulky muscles - Women usually do not have the genetic potential to develop large, bulky muscles because they don’t have enough of the hormone, testosterone, needed for the development of muscle bulk. While steroids and other artificial means may cause some women to bulk up, strength training will not.

Spot reducing is possible - Spot reducing is not possible. The concept is based on the flawed notion that it is possible to “burn off” fat from a specific part of the body by selectively exercising that area. However, numerous studies have refuted this claim. Only regular exercise training (aerobic and strength) and a sensible diet can eliminate excess body fat.

No pain, no gain- Many incorrectly assume that exercise must hurt to be beneficial, when in fact exercising to the point of pain can do more harm than good. A sensible exercise program might be uncomfortable, but should not be painful. It should put a reasonable demand on the cardiorespiratory and musculoskeletal systems to improve their function, without significantly increasing the risk of injury.

Exercise requires a hefty time commitment - Any amount of regular exercise contributes to better overall health and well-being. ACE recommends a total of at least 30 minutes of physical activity a day to maintain health and reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer. Individuals desiring to lose weight and keep it off are advised to accumulate 60 minutes of physical activity each day.

If you exercise, you can eat whatever you want - A sound nutrition program goes hand-in-hand with a sound exercise regimen. If the goal is to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight, consumers should add more fruits and vegetables to the diet, avoid processed high-sugar foods and control portion size.

There’s a magic bullet or quick fix out there somewhere - There is no quick fix. Many nutritional supplements are marketed using deceptive, misleading, or fraudulent advertising. A well-balanced diet coupled with regular exercise is still the safest and most effective way to achieve weight loss or performance goals.

“With the abundance of available information sources, it is easy to pick up erroneous fitness advice,” said Dr. Cedric Bryant, chief exercise physiologist and vice president of educational services for ACE. “The key is looking to qualified, fitness professionals or reputable organizations for health and fitness advice to safely sort through the ever-increasing maze of misinformation.”

About ACE

The American Council on Exercise (ACE) is a nonprofit organization committed to promoting active, healthy lifestyles and their positive effects on the mind, body and spirit. ACE pledges to enable all segments of society to enjoy the benefits of physical activity and to protect the public against unqualified fitness professionals and unsafe or ineffective fitness products, programs and trends. ACE accomplishes this mission by setting certification and continuing education standards for fitness instructors and through ongoing public education regarding scientifically sound health and fitness practices. For more information on ACE and its programs log onto the ACE Web site at www.acefitness.org.




last update: February 2009



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