Debunking common fitness myths: Part I

More information than ever is available for people who want to learn about exercise or nutrition.
However, a great number of incorrect facts have also been written or spoken about fitness over the years that send people in the wrong direction.
Today is Part I of a three-part series on Debunking Fitness Myths.
1. If I exercise regularly, I don’t have to watch my diet closely.
That is incorrect because people often think they are burning a lot more calories than they really are. If a 150-pound woman burns 300 calories during a 30-minute run, but then goes out and has a cheeseburger, fries and soda for more than 600 calories, she’s lost the benefit of that workout. To lose weight a person must burn more calories than they take in.
2. To protect my knees, I should run on a treadmill.It is true that treadmills offer more cushioning than running on pavement, but any form of running will stress the knee. If your knees are often sore, even running on a treadmill can aggravate them. Look to use lower-impact machines such as ellipticals, road bikes and stationary bikes to preserve your knees.
3. Machines are always safer than free weights.This is a common misnomer. It’s true that machines are a great way to build and strengthen muscle and often easier and safer to use than free weights.
However, if you don’t use proper form on a machine, don’t have it set at the right height or distance or are not properly aligned, you can get hurt just as easily. Be sure to ask personal trainers, research carefully and-or read the owner’s manual very carefully on how to use your strength training machine or functional trainer.
4. Doing ab workouts will get rid of my belly.That is false because the only way to reduce your belly is to reduce your overall body fat percentage. Doing ab workouts will make your ab muscles stronger, but it takes overall training and a healthy diet to see the stomach look better.
5. To lose weight, I should only focus on aerobic exercise.Again, losing weight is not just a one-way street. Combine aerobic exercise with strength training, which helps you reduce body fat, increase lean muscle mass and burn calories more efficiently. Also make sure to stretch and exercise your core muscles for flexibility, balance, and good circulation.

At Home Fitness consultant Aaron Dorksen’s blog deals with a variety of fitness topics, ranging from workout tips, motivational ideas and feature stories on how exercise impacts people’s lives. E-mail him with comments, questions or ideas for future blogs at