Staffer debunks health, workout myths

Myth #1: Weight loss and diets

The number one New Year’s resolution is to lose weight, which goes hand in hand with diet culture. In most cases, extreme diets and excessive weight loss do not equate to a “healthier” or “more fit” lifestyle. According to medical center Cleveland Clinic, rapid weight loss causes muscle mass to deteriorate. Without sufficient muscle mass, every day tasks can become cumbersome. Furthermore, one can miss out on certain nutrients, leading to bone density issues, weakened immunity towards diseases and fatigue. Additionally, the clinic found that 80% to 95% of dieters regain their lost weight.

While there is no set formula for a healthier lifestyle, one common alternative to dieting is to trust your body to make your food choices. Benefits include increased satisfaction and less overeating.

Myth #2: Health benefits of Organic foods

In many grocery stores, the produce section is often divided into two parts: organic and not organic. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, “Organic farming uses an approach that avoids synthetic chemicals, hormones, antibiotic agents and genetic engineering.”

Though many believe that organic produce is more nutritious than its non-organic counterparts, there has yet to be proof of increased nutrition in organic foods. However, studies have shown a link between synthetic pesticides and reduced cognitive abilities in young children. For adults, on the other hand, the difference between organic and conventional produce is minimal, and while there are slight benefits to organic foods, it depends on how much one is willing to spend.

Myth #3: stretching before exercising

About 99% of sports coaches and physical education teachers instruct their athletes or students to stretch as a part of their preactivity routine, according to the National Library of Medicine.

Static stretches require no movement and are held for extended periods of time. Dynamic stretches, on the other hand, are controlled movements that target preparation for a certain activity. Although static stretching can help loosen muscles, it has little effect on athletes’ avoiding injury. According to a study conducted by the National Library of Medicine with 26,000 participants, researchers found that participants whose stretching regime focused on increasing strength over flexibility reduced their chance of injury by 70%.

Instead, athletes should stretch dynamically. Warming up can help avoid strained or pulled muscles. Examples of dynamic stretching exercises include side shuffles, hip circles and lunge walks.

Myth #4: Targeted fat loss

Targeted fat loss is a widespread idea advertised by health magazines and commercials. The common belief is that exercising a certain muscle group decreases the amount of triglyceride, or fat, in that area.

In a study conducted by the University of Connecticut, participants completed a training program targeting the nondominant arm. The results showed that fat reduction was generalized. Thus, “burned” fat comes from anywhere in the body.

Although spot-reduction exercises do not achieve targeted fat loss goals, they can still be beneficial in a workout routine. Instead of spot-reducing exercises, a more efficient way of overall fat loss are routines that focus on cardiovascular or high-intensity interval training. Such workouts burn more calories, and lead to greater overall fat loss.