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Exercise myths worth tossing aside

When it comes to physical fitness, there’s a lot of conflicting information going around. What’s the truth behind what you’ve heard or read about exercise, and what’s mere myth? Have a look.

Long, low-intensity workouts are best.

It’s smart to start off slowly, especially if you haven’t worked out in the past. Gradually increasing your workout intensity as you get stronger is the most efficient way to lose weight. Moving faster burns more calories per minute.

No pain, no gain.

Slight discomfort is one thing; actual pain is a signal that you’re injuring yourself. Stop immediately if exercise becomes painful. If you have sore muscles the day after a workout, it means you’ve torn microscopic connective tissue. The soreness will probably go away by itself in a day or two—next time, ease up a little.

Women bulk up like men from lifting weights.

False. Male hormones help men build bulky physiques. Women who lift weights for fitness become toned and firm but are still feminine, not manly.

Everyone burns calories at the same rate during exercise.

Not true. Someone who weighs, say, 200 pounds burns twice the calories of a 100-pounder performing the same aerobic exercise at the same rate. It’s a physics thing—the heavier the mass, the more energy (calories) to propel it.

Morning workouts are the most productive.

In fact, the best time is whatever’s best for you. Caution: If you work out at night, make sure it isn’t interfering with your ability to fall asleep. The stimulant hormones released by exercise, such as adrenaline, stay in your system for several hours afterward.

Drinking water during a workout causes cramps.

Actually, not having enough water in your system during exercise is the cause of most cramps. Drink plenty—before, during and after your workout.