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Common fitness myths: Part I

Posted by Elizabeth Comeau  December 5, 2012 07:00 AM

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RyanHealy100.jpgRyan Healy is a personal trainer for the Lynch/van Otterloo (LVO) YMCA in Marblehead. She is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist through the NSCA, and earned her BS in Exercise Sports Science from Elon University. Find more posts by her in conjunction with the LVO YMCA at She can be reached at

Remember; please consult your doctor before starting any exercise program.

Despite the best efforts of educated fitness professionals everywhere, there are many exercise myths that still persist, and we hear them quite often. To these myths I say, I will break you! In all seriousness, I hope to shed a little light on some of the most commonly mistaken fitness beliefs. Here are the first three in this multi-part series.

Sweat is a good indicator of the intensity of your workout

Perspiration is highly individual, and also depends greatly on your activity, hormones, and environment. Some people sweat much more easily than others, and avid exercisers and athletes actually begin to sweat sooner into a workout than their sedentary counterparts because their bodies have become more efficient at the cooling process. Many also sweat more doing fast paced cardiovascular activities than they do when resistance training, but that doesn’t mean that cardiovascular training is better because of that. Perspiration rates also vary greatly in response to the temperature and humidity of the environment. You can imagine the difference between jogging outside in cold dry weather versus taking a steamy hot yoga class. A more accurate way to gauge the intensity of a workout would be to evaluate your heart rate response instead.

To whittle your waist, do lots of abdominal work
Unfortunately this widely held belief, called spot reduction, just isn’t true. If it were, fitness products like the Shake Weight or the Thigh Master might have more of an impact than they do! Just like we can’t pick where we gain weight, we can’t pick where we lose it either. When your body achieves a caloric deficit, it loses body fat all over and not just from one area. Working on just one muscle group won’t make a difference in targeting where the fat loss comes from. A full body exercise program combined with a healthy diet WILL make a huge difference though.

I just exercised so I can eat whatever I want
Another myth I wish were true! Unfortunately, for most people this isn’t the case, especially when fat loss is a goal. The caloric burn that comes from a single workout session can easily be undone by poor food choices or adding in an extra snack or two. A regular exercise routine is most effective when combined with proper nutrition. The two go hand in hand and results are typically, in my experience, better and faster when both of these areas are addressed and tailored to your goals.

Now, next time you hear someone repeat these misnomers, break the repetitive cycle and educate them on why these aren’t true!

Staying fit is an important part of staying healthy. This blog will offer exercise tips from experts as well as share the personal journeys of Globe staff members committed to fitness. No matter your age or energy level, we invite you to join in and share your own story. How do you find time to work out? What are your daily challenges? Let us know and read along -- and together, we can all get moving.


Elizabeth Comeau is a social media marketing manager at She will be blogging about her personal fitness journey and using a device called a FitBit to track her weekly goals and progress (see below). Follow her journey and share your own. Read more about Elizabeth and this blog.

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