Five Fitness Myths Exposed

March 13, 2014

Free yourself from fables that may be holding back your progress

CLINTON TOWNSHIP—Grabbing a page-turning novel can make your time on the exercise bike fly by. But when it comes to getting the most from your workout, you want information that’s fact, not fiction. Fitness myths stick around as stubbornly as love handles.

“These myths hold people back, sometimes even causing people to not work out at all,” notes Kelly See, health educator and certified personal trainer at the Henry Ford Macomb Center for Weight Management “Moving is better than not moving, so find opportunities to do whatever you can.”

Myth 1: No pain, no gain.

“Some people think if your muscles don’t hurt, you’re not getting any benefit,” says Kelly. “Being in pain is definitely not required for a workout. In fact, anything that doesn’t feel right should be a warning. If you’re moving but not feeling pain, you’re still reaping the benefits by increasing your metabolism.”

Plus, if you enjoy your workout, it will be easier to stick with it.

Myth 2: Exercise is all you need to lose weight.

You can’t jump on your treadmill and outrun a bad diet.

“The truth is, while exercise actually does help you burn more calories and help you add muscle, for weight loss, you need to eat a healthy diet and restrict calories as well,” Kelly advises. “Exercise alone might give you some weight loss for a week or two, but eventually your body adapts and you stop losing weight.”

Myth 3: Do crunches to get killer abs.

Forget those infomercials for devices claiming they’ll shave inches off your thighs or belly. Spot reduction—the idea that you can shrink one part of your body with high repetitions of strengthening movements—remains one of the fitness world’s most long-standing fairy tales.

“It’s completely false,” agrees Kelly. “We can’t choose the areas we want to reduce. Our bodies predetermine where they store fat. Spot training can help strengthen and build specific muscles, but you won’t lose fat. To tone your body overall—including your abs—you need a combination of strength, cardio, posture and flexibility training.”

Myth 4: Low-intensity workouts are a waste of time.

“High-intensity workouts where your heart rate is elevated are good for challenging your heart,” Kelly says. “But if you do 25 minutes of low-intensity exercise five days a week, you’ll get some major health benefits, including building up muscle which increases your metabolism. Any movement is better than no movement. But do try to challenge yourself within that low-intensity range, because if you’re doing the same thing every day your body will adapt and you’ll experience that weight loss plateau. If you’re walking, can you pick up the pace? Can you go a couple extra minutes? Challenge yourself once in a while.”

Myth 5: I don’t have time.

“We see exercise recommendations of 30 minutes a day and think, ‘I don’t have 30 minutes,’” notes Kelly. “So how can we make exercise a part of what we’re already doing?”

  • Try walking in place while you watch TV.
  • Walk during lunch.
  • If you’re on your cell phone, remember, it’s not plugged into the wall anymore. So walk while you talk. Then, when your call ends, check the timer and see how many minutes your call lasted. That’s how long you walked!
  • Do calf raises while you’re working in the kitchen.
  • Make extra trips to get your groceries from the car.
  • Incorporate exercise into time you’re with your family. Websites like have great videos that make it fun to exercise with your kids, and you don’t have to pay a penny. Or simply take a walk or ride a bike with your loved ones.

“The biggest myth is in our mind,” Kelly concludes. “That’s the major blocker for everything. We overanalyze things, we telling ourselves ‘I can’t’ or ‘I won’t.’ Just say I can. Just start with one step. That will turn into other steps, then into a walk, a jog, then a whole new lifestyle. By refocusing your mind, that’s the biggest thing you need to do. Don’t look at the I cant’s. Look at the I cans.

Manage your weight for a healthy lifestyle

Henry Ford Macomb Hospitals offers a variety of medically supervised non-surgical and surgical weight management programs tailored to each individual.

Center for Weight Management

The Center offers three ongoing programs. The options include: the “Decision Free Diet” which is designed for those who wish to lose more than 30 pounds, “Healthy Solutions” for those seeking moderate weight loss and a less structured program, “Simple Choices.” Weight loss classes take place at our Shelby Township, Richmond and Chesterfield health centers. For more information, go to or call 1-800-756-9890.

Bariatric Surgery Center

When multiple attempts at weight loss have failed, it may be time to consider bariatric surgery. Patients have access to an experienced, Center of Excellence surgical team at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, as well as expert guidance before and after their procedure right at Henry Ford Macomb’s Clinton Township hospital. Anyone considering surgical options for weight loss is invited to attend a seminar focusing on preparation for bariatric surgery and post-surgical care, including diet maintenance and exercise.