Fact or Fiction: Four Common Exercise Myths

When it comes to exercising, everyone thinks their way is the best way. Between social media, television, and the well-intended advice of your friends, it can be hard to know who to trust when it comes to best practices. To help you sort fact from fiction, we’ve compiled a list of four of the most common exercise myths.

You shouldn’t work out if you’re sick.

When you’re sick (and we’re talking the common cold here), exercising may be the furthest thing from your mind. Some medical professionals may even advise against exercising while you’re under the weather, as they believe it may only worsen your symptoms or cause the illness to spread. In some instances, rest and relaxation is just what the doctor ordered. In other cases, however, a bit of light exercise may actually help clear your sinuses and help you feel a bit more like your regular self. If you have a head cold or sinus congestion, a short, low-intensity workout may help clear your airways and regulate your body temperature. You should avoid exercising with your head in a low position to avoid excessive pressure in your sinuses. You should pay particular attention to how well you are breathing and getting air. Avoid heavy weight exercises while sick when you would tend to have very forceful exhalations with congested airway or congested sinuses. If you’re planning to exercise while you’re sick, however, you may want to exercise at home rather than at a public gym, where you may pick up other germs or get other gym-goers sick.

Exercising Sick

Use your judgment if you want to exercise with Above-the-Neck symptoms
Earache (be extra cautious about pressure)
Sore throat
Sinus pressure
Stuffy or runny nose

Avoid exercise with Below-the-Neck symptoms … any of the following symptoms:

Diarrhea Vomiting
Fever Chills
Fatigue Muscle or body aches
Coughing or chest tightness

You should always stretch before working out.

This is perhaps one of the most common exercise myths on the market. For many years, we’ve been told that the best way to avoid injury while exercising is to warm up and stretch vigorously beforehand. However, excessive static stretching prior to working out may actually weaken muscles immediately after the stretching and increase your risk of injury. Before working out, you should engage in light, dynamic stretching to help prepare your body for more strenuous exercises. Dynamic stretches are active movements in which the muscles go through a full range of motion. You should save static stretches, in which muscles are extended and remain so for a longer period of time, for after your workout. These types of stretches, such as hamstring or quadricep stretches, work best when your muscles are already warm and limber. They’re a great way to cool down after a productive workout.

You’ll lose weight more quickly if you exercise on an empty stomach.

Maybe, but not always best method.
This may be true in some instances, as your body is more likely to tap fat stores when it’s deprived of nutrients. However, this strategy is not recommended, and it may even have harmful effects on your health. Without the proper fuel and nutrients, you’re more likely to become lightheaded while exercising, which may lead to injury. It’s important to fuel your body with healthy foods rich in nutrients, such as protein, fruits, and vegetables. Following a healthy diet will yield far better results than exercising on an empty stomach. If you are frustrated with weight loss, and you want to try a poorly-fueled workout to tap into fat storage, you should probably limit this method to once or twice a week at the most.

If you’re not sweating, you’re not working hard enough.

Sweat is your body’s natural way of regulating your core temperature. The amount of sweat you produce does increase with more vigorous exercise, but it’s not necessarily a true measure of how hard you’ve worked. Everyone sweats a different amount, and the amount you sweat may depend on a number of outside factors. For instance, the temperature of the environment in which you’re exercising can play a large role in the amount of sweat you produce. Exercising in a higher temperature will cause your body to produce much more sweat than it might if you were working out in a lower temperature, as your body will have to work harder to regulate your internal temperature.