7 Myths about Exercising

A lot is written about physical exercise and everyday activity in the media, and it can be difficult sorting out what to believe. Many media articles are based on scientific research, but not all research is good research. The media usually focuses on articles that generates traffic, without it necessarily being based on good quality scientific research.

Below we present 7 common myths about exercise and physical activity, which may help clear up some confusion:

Strength training and cardio training undermines each other:
A lot of people who focus on cardio training actively avoids weight and strength training, and vice versa, based on the belief that one type of exercise will negatively influence the other. Runners and cyclists believe added muscle mass from weight training will make them slow and heavy, which will affect their running or cycling performances. Those who prefer strength training avoids cardio training because they believe it will lead to loss of muscle mass. Scientific research shows that it is very beneficial to do both, and that one wont negatively affect the other if the workouts are structured properly.

For runners, more strength training can give a better running economy, meaning that you will run more efficiently for less energy. This means that increased strength training will make you run faster for less effort. Strength training is also very beneficial in injury prevention, and for strengthening joints, sinews, bones, and the central nervous system. When it comes the weight training, doing cardio will not lead to reduced muscle mass or strength, if energy consumption remains high enough and the cardio training does not replace the number of weightlifting sessions or the quality of said sessions. This means that both regular exercisers and pro athletes should do both cardio and weight training, but if you have a preferred activity, then you should prioritize this – if you want to be stronger, do mostly weightlifting. If you want more stamina, do mostly cardio training.

Strength training burns more calories than cardio training:
All physical activity requires the body to expend energy. How many calories you burn depends on type of activity, intensity, and duration. It is a common myth that strength training burns more calories than cardio. If you compare one hour of strength training with cardio, the number of calories you burn through cardio is way higher than strength training. This is due to cardio training usually having a higher intensity over a longer period, compared to weightlifting which usually involves breaks between sets. It is also a common myth that strength training leads to higher metabolism because more muscles burn more calories. While technically true, this amounts to only about half a banana a day. A combination of strength training, cardio training and a healthy diet is beneficial for increased metabolism and good health in general.

Strength training makes me big:
If your goal is large and defined muscles, it will require structured training over a long period of time. This means hard and focused work, and more than just 1 or 2 sessions  per week. You will probably experience gaining more muscle mass and becoming stronger, but to achieve large and visible muscles a lot of hard work is what it takes. Doing regular strength training a few times a week should not be avoided in fear of becoming “bulky”, as it would demand a lot of focused dedication and time.

 If you’re not sore, you haven’t trained hard enough:
A lot of people use soreness as an indicator of how hard you have been working out. Consequently, if you are not sore, you haven’t trained hard enough. The truth is that soreness has no direct relevance for how hard you have trained, but rather what you have been training. Your body becomes sore when it is exposed to unusual workloads or new exercises. No matter how hard this new exercise is, you will become sore if it’s never been done before. The same thing happens when it has been a long time since you last did the exercise, even though it is a familiar exercise. After a while, you will no longer get sore, only tired, no matter how hard you train. So, soreness does not work as indicator of how hard you have been training.

I am too old for strength training:
You are never too old for strength training. After 60 years of age (+/-5 years), muscle mass and strength will gradually be reduced, doing strength exercises is important to slow down this age-related process. You can even gain muscle mass and strength at old age, and it also helps with improving balance, coordination, better stamina, bone density and reduced risk of cardiac diseases and , overweight issues. It is never too late to start strength training, in fact l there is an extra good reason to start after the age of 60

I don’t need strength training, I swim/I cycle:
Cardio training like bicycling or swimming is great for increasing stamina but should be combined with weight bearing exercises like walking, running or weightlifting.  Swimming or biking does not give weight load to the skeleton. This can lead to problems relating to osteoporosis.. Weight-bearing activities such as walking, running and strength training contribute to higher bone density in children and adolescents up to the age where the skeleton is mature (20-25 years of age), and can help to slow down an age-related loss of bone mass after 50-55 years of age. In this way, strength training and weight-bearing physical activity can prevent the possible development of osteoporosis.

Walking 10.000 steps a day is the best medicine:
Many have heard that walking 10 000 steps a day is crucial to better health. The number 10 000 however is very random – it actually originates from a Japanese marketing campaign in the 60s, and is not in any way backed by science. What is backed by science, is that it is good for you to be active, and that those who walk more have better health than those who don’t. Every step counts and can contribute to better health for those who are not physically active. Walking 10 000 steps a day can be a great goal for many people, but the intensity of the activity is just as important as number of steps. Also short (1-2 min) bars of activity, such as going up a flight of stairs or a hill so fast that you become a little out of breath, will provide a health benefit, especially if repeated several times a day. The Norwegian Directorate of Health does no longer recommend a certain number of steps, but rather 150 minutes of moderate activity, or 75 minutes of high activity, or a combination of both, every week.