Have you ever been given the following pieces of fitness advice? Never exercise on an empty stomach. If you’re a woman, avoid lifting weights so you don’t bulk up. Marathon running will ruin your body. These are just a few pieces of fitness advice that you may have heard at one time or another throughout your life, but are they really true? In recent years, researchers and scientists have put popular pieces of fitness advice to the test to determine whether these adages will actually help, or hurt your health.
Here’s the truth behind some of America’s most popular fitness and exercise advice.
Is yoga good for your health, or does it cause pain?
Earlier this year, The New York Times published an article that said yoga may be too high risk for some individuals, and that it could cause lower back pain. However, the 16 million people who actually practice yoga in the United States say that the exercise helps relieve mental stress and anxiety, as well as physical health problems.
In truth, any type of exercise can result in injury if you use incorrect form. If you have an inexperienced yoga instructor, and nobody is showing you how to practice the proper form, your risk for injury will significantly increase. According to other studies that have been published in recent years, yoga actually has the ability to reduce chronic back pain by 42 percent, and when practiced regularly, can result in 30 percent more ease with performing normal, everyday tasks. In short, if yoga is causing you to experience back pain, you’re most likely doing it incorrectly.
Is it safe to exercise on an empty stomach?
Some believe that working out on an empty stomach can help burn fat faster since there’s no food in your stomach to burn. According to Keri Peterson, MD, a contributor to HealthiNation, most individuals think that having low glycogen levels will help their bodies focus more on burning fat than carbohydrates. But from a scientific standpoint, studies have found that fat-burning rates remain the same for up to 90 minutes regardless of whether people eat or not before exercising.
In truth, you should make a point of eating before your workout if you’re hungry and need fuel — otherwise, you could become light-headed and increase your risk for injury during your workout. But if you do feel that your body has the fuel it needs to make it through a workout, proceed with caution, or speak to your healthcare provider for their recommendations based on your personal health history.
Should you exercise when you’re sick?
If you eat healthy, whole foods and exercise on a regular basis, chances are, you probably won’t ever become sick. But if for some reason you practice lifestyle habits that compromise your immune system, you might be wondering if exercise will help speed up recovery.
In truth, prevention is the best medicine. According to a study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, those who exercise on a daily basis are able to reduce their risk for illness by at least 43 percent. Stay away from processed foods and avoid consuming any type of preservatives and man-made food items as much as possible to lower your chances of becoming sick. If you do become sick, stay home and rest to avoid infecting anyone else. Studies have even shown that exercise does not hurt or help ease symptoms in those who suffering from a cold, runny nose, or sore throat.
Should women avoid weight training?
Many individuals believe that women should focus strictly on cardio exercise and avoid weight training at all costs to prevent their bodies from bulking up. However, avoiding weight training when you’re trying to lose excess weight can result in flabby arms, legs, stomach, and skin because you’re not doing anything to actually tone and tighten your muscles.
Incorporate strength training into your exercise routine at least two times per week to tone and tighten your skin and muscles. Strength training has even been proven to burn fat for up to 24 hours per day, even when you’re being sedentary. Combining weight training with cardio exercise will reduce your risk for having loose skin as you continue to lose weight.
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