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#FitU with Phindi Gule: Exercise Myths about Weight Loss

Gimmicks like the Ab Blaster look too good to be true… and they are. Phindi helps tackle a few myths when it comes to exercise.

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Exercise Myth #1: The more you sweat, the more kg's you will drop

Fact: Weight loss is not about sweating. It’s about burning calories.

What matters most about losing weight is that at the end of each day you’ve burned more calories than you’ve eaten. You want more calories (energy) “going out” than “going in”.

Sure, if you sweat up a storm, you’ll lose a kg or two in water, but it’s temporary. Those kg's go right back on. That’s because sweat has little to do with calories burned. Sweat happens simply because your body is storing heat, whether while exercising or sunbathing, and you need to cool off.

So if running – and profuse sweating – isn’t your thing, that’s fine. Walk if you prefer.

What is associated with calories burned is the total number of steps you take each day. An effective goal for most people is about 10,000 steps (7 - 8km's) every day.

Exercise Myth #2: You can burn more calories while walking by carrying free weights or wearing ankle or wrist weights

Fact: Using weighted items during aerobic exercise could actually ruin your best efforts to burn calories.

Using weights while walking or jogging can alter your normal gait and body mechanics, placing a strain on ligaments, tendons, and joints. “The strain exposes you to a heightened risk of injury, which means you might end up on the couch, in pain, and burning no calories."

Weights can be a great part of your fitness routine when used for your strength training sessions – separate from your aerobic sessions.

Exercise Myth #3: No pain, no gain

In other words, no pain no weight loss - WRONG! Moderate intensity physical activity makes you breath harder and may make it more difficult to talk, but you should be able to carry on a conversation while exercising. This is unlike vigorous physical activity, which will make you completely out of breath and will make you sweat profusely regardless of the weather condition. 

Exercise Myth #4: You can target one area, like belly fat, and get rid of it (at least that’s what ads tell us)

There’s no such thing as “spot reduction” – except in media hype. It is physiologically impossible to lose fat in one specific area. Losing fat in the belly, hips, butt, and everywhere else does happen, but only because you’ve created an energy deficit, that, is, you’re burning more calories than you’re eating. The best – and only scientifically proven – way to do that is with lifelong healthy habits – a fiber-rich, low-calorie-dense eating plan and regular (ideally, daily) exercise.

So hang in there, dedicate time every day for aerobic workouts in your training heart rate zone. And two to three times weekly, target all your major muscle groups with some strength training exercises for that strong core. Equally important, eat well – lots of fresh fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole grains every day. You will lose excess fat, wherever it is on your body.

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