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6 New Year's Resolution Fitness Myths
by Justin Leonard
Written on December 20, 2005

Myth # 6: You should join a gym and start an exercise program.

Certainly this might be a good idea for some. It can also be motivational. But for others, exercise is hard to adhere to for reasons that include time conflicts, low motivation, or even lack of funds. Instead, simply aim to be more active. You can also perform fitness-related activities from your own home.

Myth # 5: You must exercise to achieve "health" benefits.

In fact, exercise is not required to achieve health benefits. By definition, exercise is physical activity that is planned, structured, and repetitive for the purpose of conditioning the body. But the US Surgeon General has stated that significant health benefits can be gained by performing 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity on most days of the week.

Physical activity is defined as any bodily movement that results in energy expenditure (or that burns calories). By simply lifting an arm or walking across a room, you are effectively burning energy. But the Surgeon General says that a bit more energy must be used in order to achieve health benefits.

So what is moderate intensity physical activity? Well, it can be described as how you would feel after a brisk walk (lightly winded). Simply put, it means doing a little more physical activity with an intensity that is slightly higher than normal. Moderate intensity physical activity does not involve sweating or vigorous exercise movements.

Myth # 4: You should go on a diet to lose holiday pounds.

Not recommended. For the most part, it's really about the quantity of food eaten. Fad diets are effective temporarily, but they are rarely adhered to for any significant length of time. So consider eating what you would normally eat, but just less of it. You may also be able to save a few calories by choosing healthy or light alternatives.

Myth # 3: Cardiovascular exercise such as running will burn more calories than strength training.

Not true. There is a wide body of scientific evidence which suggests that strength training will burn more overall calories than cardiovascular exercise in a given time period. Moreover, strength training will boost your resting metabolic rate (RMR), allowing you to burn a greater amount of calories during times when the body is less active (e.g. sleeping, sitting at a computer, watching television).

Myth # 2: You must set aside at least 1 hour to workout.

Actually, studies have shown that multiple bouts of exercise [and/or physical activity] accumulated throughout the day has virtually the same benefit as one continuous bout of exercise.

Healthwise, this means that six bouts of 10-minute intermittent exercise performed at various times of the day is similar to the benefits achieved in one bout of continuous exercise done for 1 hour.

Myth # 1: A brisk walk will burn most of the calories eaten during a holiday meal.

Impossible. Let's assume that the average person enjoys about 1,000 calories in a single holiday meal. It is known that running 1 mile only burns about 100 calories (technically depends on weight of individual, running speed, and incline).

1,000 cal eaten - 100 cal burned = 900 cal

This simple math problem shows that there will still be a surplus of 900 calories after you run the mile.

Now don't stop walking after meals. It's still a good habit. Any physical activity is good for that matter. But understand that it actually takes more physical activity and/or exercise to burn off entire meals than you may think.

In almost all cases, nutritional habits will yield the largest weight loss. Exercise in general burns very little calories when compared to nutrition modification.

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