Fitness myths


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How is your New Years resolution going? It's hard to pick up a paper or magazine without a promise of how to lose weight and look better. We're constantly bombarded with health and fitness advice - some of it can be misleading.

Ever since Jane Fonda and Olivia Newton John told us to get physical we've seen 30 years of fitness trends and diet tips come and go. Low fat, low carb, no carb, low impact versus high impact. It can be hard to keep up with all the jargon - so we called in the professionals.

Personal Trainer John Fell, Dietician Arlene Normand and Exercise Physiologist Dr Adam Fraser will sort out what is "fact" and what is "fitness fantasy".

  1. We've always been told to stretch before exercise - according to Adam you needn't bother.

“There is no evidence to support the fact stretching before exercise prevents injury, no evidence whatsoever” says Adam.

  1. We're often told exercise three times a week. A Myth if your goal is to lose weight.

“Exercising three times a week sorry not enough if you want to get results” says John Fell.

“What we want to aim for is around 30 minutes each day of the week, most days of the week, 5, 6 days would be perfect” adds Adam.

  1. Super-toned celebrities and the Atkins diet taught us carbohydrates are the enemy. Some good news for pasta lovers.

“If you have carbohydrates with every meal and you keep your portions small you won't put on weight” says Arlene.

  1. Australians love cooling off with a sports drink, consuming 21 million litres every year, we're told it's good for us.

“Sports drinks are for athletes the average person does not need them, they simply don't need the calories” says Adam.

“The average sports drink has about nine tea spoons of sugar… so the average person doing a workout certainly doesn't need all the sugar after the workout or during the workout” adds Arlene.

  1. We're told nuts are a healthy snack - they're not.

“Nuts can be a real trap if you are trying to lose wait” warns John.

A handful of nuts is ok but stay away from nut bars.

“The average nut bar has twice as much fat as a mars bar and more calories in them” adds John.

  1. A common source of confusion among fitness experts - low impact exercise versus high impact - does walking burn more fat than running?

“At the end of high intensity exercise we tend to burn more total fat than at low intensity exercise” says Adam.

“You are much better off doing short high intensity bursts of interval training which will also burn more calories in the workout but will increase your metabolism so you will be burning more fat” adds John.

Intense exercise also stimulates something called E.P.O.C. ‘Excessive post-exercise Oxygen Consumption". Even after a good workout your metabolism stays elevated.

  1. Celebrities like Jennifer Anniston swear 5-6 small meals a day is better than three large meals.

“It's actually a myth the theory is if I have 5 or 6 meals I will burn more calories during the day but when the British Journal of nutrition looked at this they found no difference between 5 or 6 meals to 3 meals a day but what it does do is stop us bingeing and craving food” says Adam.

  1. We know some exercise is better than none but do you have to exercise for a certain length of time for it to count.

“This is the biggest myth on the planet and it makes me frustrated because people will listen to that and think well if I can't exercise there's no point you start to burn fat from the first step you take that is a complete myth and we should forget it” says Adam.

  1. Most people think exercising before breakfast is better.

“This is a tricky one there is a lot of research that shows if you haven't eaten you burn more fat, a greater percentage of fat although having looked at this it's not really worth the effort - the absolute impact on you is not that great” says Adam.

  1. Some women are scared pumping iron could make them too muscley.

“Complete myth, women don't have the testosterone levels to put on a lot of muscle” says Adam.

“Women definitely shouldn't be afraid of weights - the idea is keep your weight light do lots of repetition and change the angle” adds John.

  1. Lack of sleep & stress lead to weight gain.

The panel is unanimous on this one: the key to better health could be as simple as getting more sleep.

“Definitely that is true what we know is people who are overweight tend to sleep less than people who are normal weight” says Adam.

“That's absolutely true fatigue, is one of the biggest stimulus for over eating when people are tired they tend to be over weight” adds Arlene.

Dietician Arlene Normand

Dr Adam Fraser

Fitness Trainer John Fell