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Fitness and Health Myths Debunked

Standing around the water fountain at work or at your gym, perhaps in general conversation, you have probably heard someone mention facts about health and fitness that grab your attention. How about if you lift heavy weights, you will end up looking like a freak show, or if you consume certain foods, you can actually lose weight on particular areas of your body! While these folks talk as if they have done their homework and know the facts, the truth is they are merely perpetuating some long-standing myths. Sorry, there is no way to “spot lose” weight on certain parts of your body. (I know, I was bummed too.) However, by knowing the facts behind some of these myths, you can gain a healthy and fit body, and help your friends, gym patrons, and co-workers to start spreading truths instead of myths.

I have selected a few of my favorite myths and debunked them, so here we go:

Muscle turns to fat when you quit lifting weights. By definition: Muscle is a tissue composed of fibers capable of contracting to effect bodily movement. Fat is a natural oily or greasy substance occurring in animal bodies, esp. when deposited as a layer under the skin or around certain organs. These are two different tissues altogether. One cannot turn into the other. When you stop weight training, your muscle mass decreases, thus slowing down your metabolism. Slower metabolism and lack of physical exercise or weight training can cause weight gain (i.e., fat).

Machines are better and safer than free weights. Actually, both machines and free weights offer benefits, but in different ways. Free weights allow the individual to adapt to weight easier than machines; however, the use of free weights requires the individual to make a conscience effort in their form and alignment to avoid injury. Machines are what I call the “no brainer” way of incorporating weights into your fitness regimen, all you do is adjust the seat, pin the weight/resistance and begin. However, machines are not designed for all body types, and sometimes you just can’t adjust the seats and tensions to fit your needs. Bottom line, it is a matter of preference.

You can spot-reduced problem areas. Oh how I wish this were true! Truth is, you won’t see six-pack abs by doing hundreds of crunches, or nicely toned glutes by doing lunges till you can’t walk. Matter of fact, you won’t see results anywhere on your body if you don’t eat a healthy diet and exercise on a regular basis. Chances are you have that six pack and tight sexy glutes. They are just hidden under a couple layers of fat.

Now that you know the truth, go out and spread the word. Eat clean, participate in regular physical activity/weight training, get plenty of sleep, drink plenty of water, and your body will thank you!

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Merlinda Swearingen

Merlinda Swearingen is a Navy wife and mother of two growing boys (12 and 10). She teaches group fitness classes at ODU's student recreation center and is a certified personal trainer, group exercise instructor, pilates instructor, personal fitness chef, and business owner with over 15 years experience in the fitness industry. She enjoys spending time with her family, church family, cooking, camping, and finding new information and ideas that are trending in the area of fitness and health. Living a healthy and fit lifestyle is a passion she enjoys sharing with anyone and everyone she meets.  

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