WITH many people having a renewed interest in self-care, there is a plethora of information online for fitness and wellness buffs, some of which is outdated, steeped in misinformation, and inconsistent. And while discerning fact from myth can be difficult, Gisel Harrow, personal trainer at Hard End Fitness Factory on Ardenne Road, shared a list of misconceptions that could be sabotaging your fitness journey.
Working out can make a woman look manly
“This is not true, and it couldn't be farther from it,” Harrow said.
She argued that it is pretty hard for women to bulk up from a normal strength-training routine because they don't have as much testosterone as men (the difference in this hormone level makes men more prone to bulking up). She further advised that if weight loss is your goal, strength training can actually help you to lean out, but you have to keep a balanced diet too.
You can stay in shape by monitoring what you eat, without exercise
“While eating healthy, balanced meals and making better choices for food intake is very important, exercise plays an integral part in keeping the weight off and maintaining healthy weight loss for much longer than dieting alone,” Harrow explained.
She also underscored that in order to achieve optimal health, exercise is crucial to ensuring physical fitness.
You need to work out every day in order to keep in shape
“Ideally, one should work out three to five non-consecutive days per week, which will give the muscle groups worked during any given exercise session time to recover properly,” Harrow instructed.
She said instead of working out every day, you need to actually plan days to allow your body to rest, even if you aren't reworking the same muscle groups. So, for example, Harrow said you can plan a mid-week rest day, and then one or two days off on the weekend to allow your body to fully recover. Some people (mainly athletes) put in active rest where they only do cardio or mobility (stretch and flexibility) work.
You shouldn't work out if you're sick
Exercise is a healthy habit and it's normal to continue working out even when you're feeling under the weather. However, while it may be perfectly fine in certain situations, Harrow said that it can also be detrimental if you are experiencing certain symptoms.
“If the symptoms are above your neck, such as a stuffy nose, sneezing or an earache, you're probably OK to engage in exercise. On the other hand, if you are experiencing symptoms below your neck like nausea, body aches, fever, diarrhoea, cough or chest congestion, you may want to skip your workout until you feel better,” Harrow advised.
You can't afford it
You don't need a gym membership or access to expensive equipment in order to exercise.
“Exercise can easily be done anytime, anywhere, to be in the best shape of your life. There are vast amounts of videos and readily accessible fitness apps that one can use to achieve optimal results in fitness and health within the comfort of your home, park or even in your office,” Harrow shared. She also said that the increasing trend among corporations to implement fitness programmes for their staff to benefit should be commended and staff should be encouraged to take advantage of them.
Working out makes you really hungry
Fuelling your body prior to working out is very important. You're supposed to be hungry after you have worked out since exercise burns calories, uses up your glycogen, and stimulates your appetite. However, exercising in a fasting state will only make you feel hungrier.
“Fuelling also includes keeping your body hydrated. If you don't drink enough water before, during and after your workout, you're going to feel hungry. Additionally, improper pre-workout fuelling can lead to increased hunger later in the day,” Harrow reasoned.
“Exercising is a great way to get and stay in shape. It is recommended to work out at least three to five days per week for a minimum of 30 minutes,” she added.
“One important thing that all of us should ensure that we do is to get clearance from a medical practitioner before starting any exercise programme.”