It’s that time of year again – not Christmas, sillies – the time where every magazine comes out with their favorite countdown lists from the previous year! One of my faves (at least for today) is the top ten worst fitness myths. These babies definitely seem to persist year after year, even among those who really ought to know better (like, say, many of the personal trainers at my gym). My personal favorite myth (that is only sort-of on their list) is:
If you want to burn fat, you have to stay in your “fat burning zone” which they usually then explain as you are working hard enough to “still talk to your neighbor.” To which I say, phooey. The research does not back this up. It is true that while you burn a greater proportion of calories from fat whilst exercising at a lower intensity, you burn a greater total number of calories exercising at a higher intensity. And calorie for calorie, you burn more fat at the higher rate. Now, I’ll never dog anyone for keeping it low if they are enjoying themselves and feel good about what they are doing but if they are meandering around the track for two hours strictly on the notion that they are “only burning fat” then they are sorely deluded.
I actually had someone say to me once, as I panted and dripped puddles all over the floor from a grueling interval workout, “You know, you’re only burning carbs when you do that. Go home and eat one bowl of cereal and you’ve wiped out your whole workout.” I wanted to scream at him but of course I was still too winded. I’d burned enough calories to eat cereal all day if I felt like it while I doubt he’d pedalled off more than the misplaced apostrophe in Cap’n Crunch.
Work out slow and steady if that is what works for you or do a killer workout if you need the burn. Or better yet, mix it up with a wide variety of activities and intensities and pay more attention to your “fun” level than your “zone.”
Some of the other Top Ten Myths include other greats like:
– Women shouldn’t lift heavy weights or they’ll bulk out
– There is a quick-n-easy way lose weight (And I’ll sell it to you for $59.99 a bottle)
– Stretching isn’t important because it doesn’t get your heart rate up
So what gets your vote for the Worst (or best) Fitness Myth of All Time??