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The Top Ten Fitness/Weight Loss Myths

September 2006
The Top Ten Fitness/Weight Loss Myths

1. Fasting and skipping meals will help you lose weight.

False. Not eating every few hours slows down the body's metabolic rate (the rate at which the body burns calories). When one goes without eating breakfast or fasts for long periods of time without any nourishment, the body is in a starvation mode and turns to existing muscle to meet its protein requirements, and to bones for its calcium requirements. Eating several small meals throughout the day is ideal.

2.As long as you exercise, you can eat anything you want and still lose weight.

False. Nutrition is very important when it comes to losing weight. A calorie deficit must be created in order to lose weight. You can accomplish this by reducing your food intake and by increasing the time spent on exercise and other physical activity. Reducing food intake does not mean starving yourself; instead it means providing your body with nutritious low calorie and low fat foods.

3.Walking alone will make you lose weight and change the shape of your body.

False. Walking alone is a great exercise for beginners and seniors. However, for those serious about wanting to change the shape of their body and lose some pounds, weight training along with cardiovascular exercise and good nutrition is a must. A lean, toned physique is achieved with weight training, which in turn can change the shape of your body.

4.Over-the-counter diet pills will help you lose weight and keep it off.

False. The main ingredient in these diet pills is caffeine, which causes the loss of appetite. Weight loss achieved from taking diet pills is usually temporary and is almost always gained right back. The only successful way to lose weight is by exercising.

5.Doing several hundred crunches will automatically give you a "six-pack" midsection.

False. It is impossible to target fat loss in specific areas of the body by doing one exercise. In other words, you cannot "spot reduce" fat. Doing crunches will tone your abdominal muscles, but in order for them to be visible, you must lower your body fat percentage. Again this can only be achieved through a combination of cardiovascular exercise, weight training and a healthy diet.

6.Buying a certain kind of equipment will help you achieve the perfect body.

Exercising regularly using just one piece of exercise equipment will not attain dramatic results. In order to get such results, you must consistently work out and include a variety of exercises using many different exercise machines that target all major muscle groups.

7.Women should not lift weight because they will get "bulky" and look like


False. This is probably the biggest myth around. Weight training helps lower body fat given that muscles burn more calories throughout the day. Women who weight train can benefit by reducing their chances of getting osteoporosis, since weight-bearing exercise is known to increase bone density. It is not possible for women to obtain large muscles naturally. Women who do have bulky muscles are most likely ingesting testosterone and other hormones. In fact, women who weight train feel stronger, have lower body fat and look leaner and toned than women who don't weight train.

8.Because I am "thin" I am healthy and fit and do not need to exercise.

False. This is another misconception. Thin and skinny looking individuals can also have a high body fat percentage unless they are exercising regularly. Skinny Asian women are especially at high risk for developing osteoporosis. As mentioned above, exercise and weight bearing activities reduce these risks.

9.It is always a good idea to use hand-held or ankle weights when walking.

False. Using ankle and hand-held weights is not a good idea for everyone, since weights greater than three pounds can put stress on the arm and shoulder muscles and joints. Furthermore, ankle weights are not advisable because they may alter the biomechanics of the lower limbs and lead to injury.

10.One should lose weight before starting an exercise program.

False. It makes no sense to lose weight before starting an exercise program. An exercise program will help you lose weight. The benefits of exercise are numerous; so don't delay it. Instead, how about getting a physical before starting an exercise program?

By Aarti Patel

Aarti Patel has a B.Sc. in Health Information Administration from the Medical University of SC. She is certified by the American Council on Exercise as a Personal Trainer, Lifestyle and Weight Management Consultant and Group Fitness Instructor. Please visit

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