When it comes to exercise and weight-loss, everyone tends to have an opinion about something. Almost every piece of advice sounds credible and hard to reject, especially when backed by testimonials or an “experienced trainer”. However, not every piece of advice is backed by solid research evidence or even true to begin with! If you've been having difficulty sifting through all the noise, here are 5 debunked exercise myths that should help clear things up!
Myth: Compression clothing improves your performance
Recently, compression tights and activewear with compression features have dominated the fitness market. Manufacturers often promise better performance and improved muscle recovery, but is this really true? Are the benefits really worth the price of compression products? Well, studies have found that compression tights actually do not have significant positive physiological effects during exercise. Rather, their claimed benefits might be stem from psychological effects instead. Additionally, some experts suggest that wearing compression tights work better as a post-exercise protocol as it aids in recovery.
Myth: Ice baths aid recovery
More of a half-truth; the benefits of ice baths have become greatly exaggerated over time. While they can help kick-start recovery after intense bouts of activities (like marathons), ice baths are not a magic potion and cannot replace proper nutrition or rest. There are many other factors which are crucial for recovery and more attention should be given to them instead of ice baths. Always remember to re-hydrate and refuel yourself after intense workouts and ensure that there are sufficient rest days in your schedule.
Myth: Stretching before exercise prevents injuries
Another half-truth that comes from many of us having been taught how static stretching is the norm prior to exercise. However, research over the years have generally failed to provide solid evidence for this, and they have instead shown that over-stretching can increase your risk of injuries. Nevertheless, stretching is still recognised to be a relevant aspect of physical fitness. Dynamic stretches (where the body is brought through a defined range of motion) work better as a warm-up while static stretches fit in better at the end. They can also be incorporated into your regimen through regular yoga sessions or other similar mind-body activities.
Myth: Exercising on an empty stomach helps you to lose more weight
“Fasted cardio” is based on the theory that working out when your body has low carbohydrate reserves can help you to mobilise more fatty tissue for fuel. Additionally, fasting keeps your blood sugar levels low, aiding in weight-loss. The reasoning may seem credible and logical, but studies have generally failed to prove this point. After accounting for caloric intake and expenditure, studies failed to find a significant amount of change in body fat percentage between individuals who performed cardiovascular activities in a fasted VS a fed state. Furthermore, untrained athletes are advised against this practice as pushing your body without proper energy reserves can be dangerous.
Myth: Sweating more helps you to lose more weight
While some people “feel” that they lose more weight when they sweat more, this is simply not true nor backed up by credible evidence. This line of thinking is dangerous, as some might choose to work out with multiple layers of clothing on or during warmer times of the day when the sun is blazing. Not only might this be uncomfortable, it might also put you at a higher risk of dehydration and heatstroke.
Yes, it might be challenging to separate fact from fiction, especially when they all seem credible at first glance. While some might not come at too much a cost, others might! Always do your own research beforehand and discern if they are backed up by solid proof. If you want to be absolutely sure, consult a licensed sports scientist or personal trainer and set your mind at ease!