For every two fitness truths, there's a lie, and sometimes it’s hard to determine which is which. (Especially when it’s something many of us have just assumed for as long as we can remember.) So, now presenting: Major Myth of Exercises which will help you get better, faster, stronger, and more powerful.
Myth 1: Sitting is the new smoking
The evidence against sitting is piling up. Sitting is being linked to more and more health problems: obesity, Type 2 diabetes, a variety of cancers and cardiovascular disease, not to mention a shorter life span. There's even a new axiom floating around, "Sitting is the new smoking."
But unlike smoking, sitting isn't a habit most of us can avoid. In many ways, the modern workplace is built around it. Research shows that these days less than 20 percent of jobs require moderate physical activity.
- Working out Once a Day Is Not Enough
If you're thinking that your gym workouts and the occasional 10-kilometer race are enough to fend off the ill effects of sitting, think again.
"Four large studies conducted in Australia and in the U.S. demonstrate that going to the gym at the end of the day sadly doesn't quite offset the apparent harm of sitting all day long," said Levine.
Instead, in addition to the gym workout, look for ways to incorporate movement throughout the day. This will help cut the body's peaks "in blood sugar and triglycerides and fat by half," said Levine.
- Standing All Day Is Bad, Too
"The answer is not that sitting is bad, but that over sitting is bad. And that's equally true for standing," Hedge said.
While a standing desk is certainly a good step in reducing the amount of time you sit, standing eight hours a day has its own set of problems, including links to cardiovascular issues, varicose veins and lower back pain.
3. Variety Is Key
"The key here is to think about how do you build a more dynamic working and living lifestyle for yourself so that you're never doing anything for too long a period of time," said Hedge.
Instead of standing or sitting all day, design your workday to be sure "you're mixing up your posture" and using different groups of muscles throughout the day.
One way to do this is to determine which tasks require sitting and which do not. Perhaps you can brainstorm while you walk, clean your desk while standing, sit to write reports and stand for phone calls.
And definitely utilize mobile technologies. They can allow you to "do the work that you need to do, but not to have to do it in any one location," said Hedge.
- Remember the 3 S's
Sit, Stand, Stretch. Those are the actions that compose Hedge's "ideal work pattern." His prescription calls for 20 minutes of sitting, then eight minutes of standing, followed by two minutes of moving and stretching.
- Take a Break
Levine said that there is more than 20 years of research supporting the health benefits of taking breaks. A break once an hour is good, but "the optimal would be every 20 to 30 minutes," he said. And don't simply mentally switch gears. "Get up, move around and stretch."
- Remember Good Posture
Standing desks are a good development as long as one is standing correctly. "Our research shows that when people start to get tired they begin to lean on the desk," said Hedge. It's important to maintain good neck and wrist posture. Resources about good workplace posture and setting up a healthy work station can be found on the Cornell University Ergonomics Web.
- Movement Begets Movement
"People who tend to sit more during their workday actually sit more during their leisure time, too," said Levine. That fact becomes all the more important if desk workers are going home and watching TV on the couch. Life expectancy decreases by 22 minutes for every hour spent watching television, according to Levine.
As bad as the news is for people with sedentary jobs, there is hope.
"There is huge variation in the amount of activity or sitting that people do," Levine said. "Some people are naturally more active or have learned to be more active than others."
Perhaps those are the people who always volunteer to make the coffee runs.
Myth 2: You can’t lose weight walking
Walking is a great form of exercise for almost everyone. It requires little specialized training, no sport-specific equipment and zero dollars spent on gym memberships. It also can be a significant benefit to your overall health.
We break down some long-lasting myths associated with walking to help you put an exercise routine into motion.
- You have to walk 10,000 steps daily to benefit.
Some people think if you can’t complete 10,000 steps each day, then you won’t get the full benefits of walking. Not true. While a goal of 10,000 steps – the equivalent of about 5 miles for someone with an average stride – is great, it’s unrealistic if you’re just starting a walking routine.
Even if you aren't able to fit in a workout or are unable to cover a great distance at first, taking any opportunity to walk adds up. The American Heart Association (AHA) cites research that shows breaking up 30 minutes brisk walking into 10-to-15-minute installments can lower your risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes – all risk factors for heart disease and stroke.
The AHA recommends that adults get at least 30 minutes of physical activity per day to get a significant benefit from the exercise. That translates to 150 minutes of moderate activity per week or 75 minutes of vigorous activity. But if you’ve been sedentary for a while and those exercise totals seem daunting, don’t worry. Just get started and add a few more minutes of exercise to your goal each day.
- Walking is for people who can’t run.
Walking is an exercise that often inspires people to break a sweat. It helps those who are new to exercise improve their cardiovascular fitness and endurance, and helps others transition to running. However, running is not the be-all and end-all of aerobic exercise.
A study published in the journal Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology found lower rates of hypertension, high cholesterol, heart disease and diabetes in regular walkers than in runners. However, while a quick walk around your neighborhood after work is a great start, maximizing the benefits of a walking regimen requires a significant number of strides in your sneakers.
- Walking isn’t an effective exercise for weight loss.
When walking for weight loss, shake up your routine. Mix in some speed walking – still slower than a run – with longer bouts at a slow to moderate pace. Try this: After warming up, walk at a fast pace for 30 seconds and then at your regular pace for 4 minutes. Repeat four to five times and end with a cool down.
Research has found that varying walking speed during a workout can burn up to 20 percent more calories than maintaining a set pace.
- Walking isn’t a strenuous enough exercise to require a water bottle.
Drinking enough fluids is especially important for bariatric patients, as dehydration is a common reason for hospital stays after surgery. To ensure you stay hydrated during walks, you’ll need to plan ahead.
Drink a large glass of water about two hours before you set out on your walk. Then any extra fluid will have time to pass through you before you’re out in nature. And, if you plan to walk for more than 15 minutes, take a water bottle along for the stroll. It’s best practice to drink three to six ounces of water per mile to avoid dehydration.
- You only benefit during the time you are walking.
It's logical to think that an hour of walking only provides an hour of fat and calorie burning. However, walking at a brisk pace can benefit you long after your cool down.
Not only does walking contribute to your fitness levels, it also can improve your balance and coordination, boost your mood and strengthen your bones and muscles.
Myth 3: Running is bad for your knees
Whether you're a neophyte runner trying to get in shape for your first 5K or a seasoned veteran who regularly cranks out 10-milers before breakfast, chances are you've heard that running is -- to put it mildly -- a tad rough on the knees. The notion is so widely accepted that the knee ailment patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS) is commonly called "runner's knee." And that would seem to make sense.
Running is a high-impact sport that puts loads of trauma on the joints, so the risk of injury and even arthritis would have to be high, right?
The Verdict: Running incorrectly is what hurts your knees, not running itself
"Running doesn't hurt your knees... if you do it correctly," says Mindy Solkin, an ACE-certified personal trainer and the founder, owner and head coach of The Running Center in New York City.
That may sound like a bold statement, but research backs it up. A multi-year study of almost 75,000 runners published in July 2013 found that, contrary to popular belief, running does not increase the risk of developing osteoarthritis. In fact, runners in the study were found to be in less jeopardy of arthritis than their non-active counterparts. Another study, published in September 2013, netted similar findings, showing that while the impact from running is high, runners' feet strike the ground less frequently and more briefly than if they were walking -- so, in essence, running and walking put the same stress on the knees.