Don’t Fall for These Exercise Myths

Don’t be fooled by these common exercise myths.

Myth: The More You Perspire, the More Calories You Burn

Just because you sweat an extra amount doesn’t mean you’re burning extra calories. The key to burning more calories and losing more weight is twofold. First of all, it’s the intensity of your workout that determines how many calories you burn. If you’re breathing hard and your muscles feel sore, then you’re burning extra calories. Second, and actually more important, is the duration of your exercise. Moderate, low intensity exercises, like walking for thirty to fortyfive minutes, burn more calories than short term strenuous exercises, without the muscle aches or the heavy breathing. By increasing the basal metabolic rate for a longer period of time, the body burns calories at a steady rate while exercising and even continues to burn calories, at a lower rate, after the exercise is finished. This is because the basal metabolic rate doesn’t slow down immediately after your longer duration moderate exercise.

Myth: Lifting Heavy Weights Burns More Calories

Lifting heavy weights does burn more calories initially; however, since this activity cannot be continued for a long time, calories are only burned for a short time. Besides, heavy weight lifting can cause muscle and ligament tears and various other tendon injuries. Interestingly enough, studies have shown that lifting heavy weights may contribute to the development of high blood pressure because this is an anaerobic exercise that does not produce oxygenation of all of the body’s cells like aerobic exercises do.

Strength training exercises using light to moderate weights, on the other hand, can be continued for a longer duration, which leads to the steady burning of calories and actually boosts your overall metabolism. This leads to weight loss and the gradual sculpting of muscles for a better, not bigger, figure. Also, these strength training exercises help prevent osteoporosis, or the thinning of the bones as we age. These exercises also build more muscle, which burns more calories than fat even after you stop exercising.

Myth: A Morning Workout Burns More Calories

The amount of calories you burn has nothing to do with the time of day; it is dependent on the type and duration of exercise you do. Your body can’t differentiate between a morning or an evening workout. All your body knows is how many calories you’ve burned by the duration and the type of exercise you are doing at any particular time of day. It takes burning 3,500 calories to lose one pound of body fat, and the same formula holds true no matter when you exercise. This can take a day, a week, or a month; the calories that are burned are cumulative. In other words, if you burn 350 calories a day walking, you will lose a pound of body fat in ten days (350 calories X 10 days = 3,500 calories burned).

Myth: Running and Strenuous Aerobic Exercises Are the Best Way to Lose Weight

Strenuous exercises burn primarily carbohydrates during the first two thirds of your workout and then begin to burn fat only during the last one third of the workout. Walking and moderate exercises, on the other hand, burn fat during the first two thirds of your workout and then burn carbohydrates in the last third of the workout. You can clearly see that you will burn more calories (fat has 9 calories per gram compared with carbohydrate, which has 4 calories per gram) by moderate exercises like walking.

Strenuous exercises are not only ineffective in a weight reduction program, but they are dangerous, since they contribute to muscle and ligament injuries, strains and sprains, and have even been known to cause more serious problems like heart attacks and strokes. A recent study from the University of Pittsburgh found that women who rated their exercise as moderate lost a comparable amount of weight, if not more weight, than those women who exercised vigorously. It’s the total duration of activity, and not the intensity of activity, that burns more calories. Weight loss occurs more gradually and more effectively in a moderate exercise program like walking. Moderate exercise also contributes to the maintenance of weight loss for as long as you exercise regularly.

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