It is easy to see why the festive period is deemed ‘silly season’. People bustle around shopping malls buying tacky gifts for an aunt they haven’t seen in a whole year – a turkey in one hand and a Christmas party outfit in the other.
But if we’re brutally honest with ourselves ‘silly season’ doesn’t really begin until the New Year. After all, that’s when millions of people descend on their local gym – armed with a drastic fitness plan that they’ve convinced themselves will see them buff in a week.
We have all been guilty of waltzing down the organic aisle at the supermarket in our gym gear, fresh from a hardcore workout class (which we may or may not have given up on halfway through) for the first week of the year. There is nothing that can beat the glow of an intense yoga class (or the taste of the chocolate you deservedly chew on afterward).
This desire to ‘get in shape’ sees people flood through the doors of their local gym and saturate the streets as they jog after work. But what these people probably don’t know is that most of the reasons why they’re there are influenced by total myths!
The following exercise myths are all ones that you’ll be familiar with – and ones you’ll probably have fallen for – but, just like most male stars in Hollywood right now, they’re not exactly what they seem…
1.Workouts are good for your brain
The chances are that you didn’t sign up for the gym just to exercise your brain – that’s what crossword puzzles are for. But it’s a happy coincidence that working out is extremely good for your mind.
According to many studies, physical exercise is much more beneficial to your brain’s functioning than any type of puzzle that you indulge in on your iPad late at night. Why? Because it raises your heart rate and gets your blood pumping, thus satisfying the brain.
A quick burst of exercise can help boost your mood, your memory, and protect your brain from age-related cognitive decline. Or as a recent blog post from Harvard Medical School put it, “Aerobic exercise is the key for your head, just as it is for your heart.”
2. Exercise is the best way to lose weight
They say you are what you eat and that remains the case no matter how much you exercise – sorry if you hoped you could simply sweat off that daily family-sized bag of chocolate buttons!
As humans, we’re very much confined to a ‘eat less, move more’ lifestyle, the issue is that most people don’t know this.
“You can lose weight with diet alone, but exercise is an important component. Without it, only a portion of your weight loss is from fat,” Michele Olson Ph.D., professor of physical education at Auburn University in Alabama told the Huffington Post.
So if you’re trying to shift that extra helping of Christmas pudding, or that Terry’s Chocolate Orange that you guiltlessly guzzled in front of the television on Boxing Day, a trip to the gym is the only way you can really help yourself. Simply eating better will only get you so far.
3. Sports drinks are best for the body after a workout
Sports drinks have long been marketed as an energy supplement that our body needs. Thus, when we complete a workout we instantly crave something that can give our exhausted frames a boost.
But it is actually the sugar that our body lusts after because energy drinks are rich in the sweet substance – mixed with a little water.
Instead, experts recommend that it’s much healthier to refuel the body with a bottle of water and a high-protein snack such as eggs, almonds, milk, broccoli, oats, tuna or chicken.
4. You only need to work out once or twice a week to be healthy
If you want to see sustained health benefits, you’ll need to be willing to commit to more than one or two bouts of exercise each week.
For your workout to produce efficient results, you need to be exercising between three and five times a week.
But there’s good news! These workouts don’t need to be hugely strenuous, a hardcode 10 minutes two days a week – combined with another two ‘normal’ days in the gym – can be enough to balance things out.
5. Weight lifting will transform weight into muscle
They say that muscle weighs more than fat, so for that reason, we hope to convert all of our body fat into muscle. But that isn’t possible.
Body fat and muscle are two completely different tissues, which means it’s not physically possible to exchange your bulging belly for a neat six pack.
The best way to see results is to combine weightlifting with a healthy diet. The clean eating will eradicate the fat problem and the exercise will help build muscle around the fat inside you.
6. It takes two weeks to fall ‘out of shape’
In a majority of people, it only takes one week for muscle tissue to start to break down.
“It very much is an issue of use it or lose it,” says Shawn Arent, director of the Center for Health and Human Performance at Rutgers University. “If you stop training, you actually do get noticeable de-conditioning, or the beginnings of de-conditioning, with as little as seven days of complete rest.”
So taking a week off over Christmas will likely have set you back more considerably than you originally thought.
7. The best time to work out is first thing in the morning
How many people do you know who are naturally morning people? The answer is probably few to none. Peeling yourself away from your bed in order to work out can feel to many like a nightmare you haven’t woken up from. So it’s handy to know that working out in the morning isn’t all it’s cracked up to be by those fitness buffs you idly follow on Instagram.
The best time to work out is actually the time in which you can commit most consistently. If that’s in the evening, then so be it, as long as it’s consistent, you’ll see the same results as someone who hops straight from their bed to the treadmill.
Essentially, do what you can. If all you can dedicate is 10 minutes on your lunch break, then that’s good too!
8. Weights are for men only
There are a lot of things in this world that are exclusively for men – something we’re learning every day as feminists fight the patriarchy. But weightlifting is not one of them.
It may have been marketed as more of a male-dominated discipline (because nobody thinks women want to be muscley), but actually, it’s accessible to all and hugely beneficial too.
9. A food diary is the best way to monitor and control what you eat
Sometimes the worst thing you can do is monitor yourself. It only prompts you to think about the problem at hand more and more. In the case of keeping a food diary, it only reminds you constantly of food – something you’re trying to everything to forget about.
Not only that, but we are often quite generous to ourselves.
“People tend to overestimate their physical activity and underestimate how much food they eat,” Business Insider reports. “They consistently think they’ve worked out more and consistently think they’ve eaten less.”
So, with that in mind, let’s all smash our 2018 fitness goals – only one whole year to go! Stay strong!
Want to know what other myths you’ve wrongly believed? This video has them all…
You really have no excuses now. We wish you all the best!