Banner Health Services  

Debunking Exercise Myths

Woman exercising  

If you feel like you’re swimming in a sea of trendy exercise programs, join the (health) club. What began as simple aerobics classes years ago has evolved into pilates, stepping, spinning and a host of other programs that seem to offer something for everyone.

But what do you really need to do, exercise-wise, to stay healthy at any age?

Myth #1: The Perfect Exercise Program

Most exercise pros agree that the wider variety of programs and classes available now is a good thing —as long as you’re realistic about what to expect.

“The problem people run into is the hype that there’s a program that can work magic with little effort,” says Dr. Cynthia Lowe, a family medicine physician at Banner Health Center in Maricopa, AZ.

“It’s not so much the programs themselves (that are unrealistic), it’s the expectations that people are given about what the program can do for them.”

“Any one class or program that claims to do it all should be looked at with some skepticism,” agrees exercise physiologist Richard Cotton, a spokesperson for the American Council on Exercise. “But generally speaking, (most popular exercise programs) have some merit for many people.”

Myth #2: One Size Fits All

It goes without saying that you should always check with your physician before beginning an exercise program, because not everyone can or should do every form of exercise.

Dr. Lowe says he steers novice and older exercisers away from high-impact aerobics such as jogging, step aerobics, and spinning, which can be too intense.

Adds American Council on Exercise’s Cotton: “Sometimes someone will try a class that they’re really not ready for. The most common mistake is doing too much, too soon.”

Myth #3: Magical Machines

The experts are unanimous: Neither man nor machine can get rid of fat in only certain targeted areas. “Any device that says if you do ab work you will get a thinner waistline, or that you will lose inches [off your waistline], is a sham,” says Cotton.

And if you’re thinking that at least it would be easier to exercise via machine, think again. The elliptical trainer, for example, is an excellent machine, says Dr. Lowe, but it won’t burn any more calories than a brisk walk or a slow jog would for the same amount of effort.

“The magic is really what you do day after day, week after week, year after year,” Dr. Lowe says.

To make an appointment with Dr. Lowe, call (520) 233-2500, or find other Banner Health physicians.

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