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Busting Health and Fitness Myths

There are so many health and fitness myths that either steer pfitness_mythseople away from the gym, reduce their progress, dampen their excitement, or in some cases cause people to get injured.

Jeff Behar, MS, MBA, sought after personal trainer, based in Beverly Hills, California discusses some of the more common and some of the oldest health and fitness myths that never seem to go away:

  • If you exercise, you can eat whatever you want.  A healthy diet goes hand-in-hand with a sound workout program. Of course the more you train and the more muscle you add to your frame, the more calories you will burn at rest. If you really want to lean out and get into shape, do  not use exercise as an excuse to eat more.  Use it as a driver to eat healthy, and really get your body to a state that you only dreamed of!  Behar suggests these healthy tips, "Cut down on processed foods, eat more fibrous veggies, eat lean protein with every meal, add some good essential fatty acids to your diet, up your water intake, up your fiber eat small frequent meals, and eat fresh organic healthy foods.

  • Spot reducing is possible. "It's simply not possible to 'burn off' fat in one specific body part by exercising that area,"  Behar states. Numerous studies have tried to refute this claim, but none of any scientific valor has proven that spot reducing is possible. At best you might lose some water weight in the area to give the impression that you indeed did "spot reduce". Rehydrate and you will see those stubborn inches "magically" reappear. Only regular exercise -- aerobic and strength training (weight lifing) -- and a sensible diet can melt body fat.

  • Exercise requires a huge time commitment. As little as 30 minutes a day works when you're in health-and-fitness maintenance mode, and 60 minutes a day will help you lose weight. "I spend 40 minutes a day 5 days a week. I was able to compete and win an overall bodybuilding title at a national qualifying spending no more than 60 minutes a day in the gym",  noted Behar. If you are not looking to be the next Mr.Olympia, 40 minute workouts will more than suffice if you are performing the exercises correctly, with great intensity, and combining the workouts with proper rest and proper nutrition.

  • There's a secret diet or a secret workout out there to get you in shape quickly.  There is no quick fix, says Behar. There are ways to train that can help maximize your time in the gym and the benefits you will drive from your workouts, but there is no quick fix. Slow and steady always wins the race. The most important tip Behar can give, "believe in yourself, believe in the process, stay the course, and you will look the best you ever looked before!"

  • You need supplements to be get in great shape. Although many people do take various supplements, be it fat burners, protein, vitamins and minerals, it is not necessary to take supplements to have a great physique. If you eat well, you can look great without incorporating supplements into your work out program. However, incorporating the right supplements as the name implies: to "supplement" an already nutritious diet can help you reach your goals quicker. 

  • Exercising at high intensity burns more fat. "This is a particularly confusing topic for some people," says Jeff Behar "Many people have thought that higher intensity means burning more fat. Well, you can burn more fat this way, you will burn more calories this way, but you also run the risk of burning more muscle this way too. If you burn hard earned muscle, the ultimate result will be a slower metabolic rate and in the long run you will be less lean than if you worked out at a lower intensity for more time. I suggest to most of my clients looking to lose bodyfat is to do their cardio on an empty stomach, and at 60-56 % max heart rate. There are exceptions to this rule, but generally speaking following this principle will do most people fine".

  • Women who lift weights will get bulky muscles. Women don't have enough of the "male" hormone testosterone to develop large, bulky muscles, says Behar. Strength training will not cause women to build muscles, although steroids might. Behar sometimes hears the same things from men who state that "they don't want to get too big".  Well, as any seasoned gym rat  will tell you, you can not get too big by accident. Putting on muscle takes dedication, hard work, and a plan. 

  • Muscle weighs more than fat.  "A pound of muscle weighs the same as a pound of fat," according to Behar. "The difference is that muscle is much more dense than body fat. Therefore, a pound of muscle will take up much less room in your body than a pound of fat."

  • No pain, no gain. It is important to know what is good pain and what is bad pain. Often beginners have not learned the difference here.   It's OK to push yourself to fatigue, tax your heart, lungs, muscles, feel the burn,  -- but be reasonable. Don't push yourself so hard that you have to miss sessions, and even worse, possibly risk an injury.

  • Yoga will make you leaner and stretch your muscles. According to Behar, "Yoga is a great activity for physical fitness. Yoga is outstanding for balance, static strength, stress reduction and flexibility. Yoga, however, does not make you "longer and leaner". Yoga can help improve posture and flexibility, but your body is not "longer because of yoga. The "length" of a muscle is not going to change any more than the skeletal structure it's attached to. As far as being leaner, yoga will contribute no more to being "lean" than any other physical activity using equivalent caloric expenditure. In other words, yoga will burn calories proportional to the energy expended in the class. Your best bet for overall calories expenditure over the long term is building muscle, because muscle causes the body to burn more calories 24/7 and not just during the physical activity itself. "

About the Author

Jeff Behar
Jeff Behar, MS, MBA
Jeff Behar, MS, MBA is a recognized health, fitness and nutrition expert, regularly writing about hot topics in the areas of health, fitness, disease prevention, weight loss, nutrition, anti aging and alternative medicine. Jeff Behar's work also often appears in several of the major health and fitness newsletters, health and fitness magazines, and on major health, fitness and  weight loss websites. Jeff Behar is also the CEO of, and; two very popular health, fitness, nutrition and anti aging information sites.



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