ith everyone sheltering in place, I have been getting a considerable number of requests for home exercise prescriptions, and while I’m happy to help, the risk that something will not go as planned elevates exponentially without supervision. Some patients complain of pain with exercise while others may report feeling too much or too little challenge. Whatever the problem, the issue likely stems from a lack of knowledge. Therefore, I want to address some of the most common exercise myths:
1. No pain, no gain. I remember my phys-ed teacher using this one ad nauseum in grade school. While it is true that both cardio and weight training can cause discomfort such as burning in the muscles, these sensations should never be confused with pain, specifically joint pain. Pain is an indicator that something is awry in your body. If you feel pain with exercise, you are actually doing more damage than good. You don’t have to keep running laps — you aren’t going to get detention.
2. Weight training will give you bulky muscles. It is true that muscle size does increase with weight lifting in men but no fear to the ladies out there. Women have fewer anabolic hormones such as testosterone, and weight training usually impacts muscle tone and strength without increasing size. In fact, a moderate level of weight training has been demonstrated time after time in research to provide health benefits to all ages.
3. Sit ups can burn fat off your waist. Sit ups are a great way to improve abdominal muscle strength but sadly, they will do nothing to remove protective coating surrounding those muscles. Proper nutrition and total body workouts are the best way to lose weight and tone up, but keep in mind, people lose and gain body fat in a genetic predetermined pattern — it isn’t one size fits all.
There are a million myths with exercise. You can google to your heart’s delight and I could go on for chapters on this topic. I always encourage my patients to explore new movements and exercises when they are on their own and I always leave them with this thought: there are no bad exercises out there, but there are a lot of bad exercise decisions. Knowing what is right and what is wrong takes practice. In this case, practice doesn’t always make perfect but it might make you healthier.
Dr. Gigante is a chiropractor and founder of Joint & Spine. 83 Franklin Turnpike, Waldwick, NJ. (201) 445-1079.