Category Archives: Myths

Toning and spot reducing. Both are a myth.

Toning is spot reducing. Both are a myth..pngWe are constantly flooded with information about exercises that “work” to tone certain areas of the body.   We are told how we can “get” a body that looks a certain way.   It can provide motivation to exercise, (for a while anyway) believing you can change the look of your body.  But, what does it mean to tone?

Spot reducing is the idea that you can exercise a certain part of your body and burn more fat in that area.  Most people I talk to know this is a myth. But what many do not realize is that “toning” or “working” certain areas is just another name for spot reducing.  It is doing an exercise to change the look of a certain part of your body.

The problem is, this is just not how our body works:

  • Fat:   Exercising a muscle does not make it burn the fat in that area. The muscle gets its fuel from what is stored in the muscle and the blood supplied to it.  It does not use the fat around the muscle to fuel it during the exercise.
  • Muscles:  Whether the shape or “definition”  of a muscle shows on the outside depends on many factors including the genetic make up of your muscles (this is the main one!), the intensity and consistency of your strength training,  and the amount of body fat you have in that area.  The fact is, we just don’t have that much control over how much muscle definition we see.  Yes, you can work a muscle hard to strengthen it, but it does not mean you will see more definition.
  • Skin: There is some evidence that strength training can help tighten the skin. While this is limited, it is the only evidence we have that you have any control over your skin.  So do strength training for your skin if that motivates you, but don’t expect huge changes.

Then, what does happens when you “work” an area of the body?

You miss out on the chance to teach your muscles to work as a team.   “Toning” or “sculpting”  and bodybuilding style strength training  mainly trains muscles individually, separating areas of the body. (ie:  triceps exercises, thigh exercises, core exercises)  In life, muscles work together.

For example, the core muscles stabilize and allow the hips and shoulders to be stronger for lifting and carrying and reaching.  They do not work alone in daily life.     Doing core work to “tone” your middle means these muscle miss out on doing their job of stabilizing while you move your arms and legs.

You are also likely to miss out on your motivation.  Since “toning” is a marketing term, backed by many Photoshoped images, doing those exercises isn’t likely to give you the “results” you want.  This is a sure-fire way to lower your motivation to exercise over time.

If you try to tone while doing cardio, you could be missing out on the stamina building benefits. You could also be putting more strain on your joints.  Using weights during walking or aerobics strains the shoulders and does not “tone” the arms.  Choose the type of cardio you do that feels best for your body, not because it will “work” certain areas.

Lets stop chasing the “toning” dream and missing out on the benefits that add so much to life.   Do strength training to improve your function and keep your muscles, bones and motivation strong as you lose weight.   Exercise in the way that lets your body know it is not “a problem to be fixed”, but a miracle to be celebrated!

Keep Moving, Be Well

Janet

 

Leave a comment

by | May 1, 2018 · 5:43 pm

Test your knowledge – answers!

list-2389219_1280This article , providing information about exercise and weight loss for people with arthritis was our first “test your knowledge” blog to boost our savvy fitness consumer skills.

What myths did you find?  Here are the ones I see:

  • The image:  Connecting information about exercise with images of “six pack abs” only increases the idea that the purpose of exercise is to look a certain way, and that having toned abs means you are healthy and fit.  This is just not the definition of fitness.   I know some very fit people who are carrying extra weight and have a strong core so they are able to do what the want and need to do in life more easily; that is the whole point of fitness.
  • The title:  “tighten up abs” in a way that is pain free.  The purpose of exercise for arthritis is to build strength around arthritic joints in a way that reduces inflammation and supports joints with movement.   Tightening abs is about how they look not how they function to reduce arthritis pain.
  • The exercises:  If you have arthritis, getting up and down off the floor is a challenge, if not impossible.  Most importantly, our core muscles are stabilizers that are used 99% of the time in an upright position, and need to be trained in that position, not while laying on the floor.  Check out this blog for more info on a truly functional core.

How did you do with your savvy fitness consumer skills?  We do these types of blogs every so often so we can enjoy exercise without the myths draining motivation.

Keep Moving, Be Well,

Janet

These weekly blogs are general guidelines. These guidelines apply to patients who are cleared by a physician for the type of exercise described. Please contact your physician with any concerns or questions. Always report any symptoms associated with exercise, such as pain, irregular heartbeats, and dizziness or fainting, to your physician.

Please share these posts with anyone you know interested in losing weight with or without weight loss surgery.  Click here to learn more about the UMass Memorial Weight Center

Leave a comment

by | January 17, 2018 · 3:22 pm

Test your knowledge

magnifying-glass-2244781_1280

Ready to test your know-how as a savvy fitness consumer?

Check out this short article , providing information about exercise and weight loss for people with arthritis.  Post in the comments section what myths you see.

I will reveal the answers in the next blog.

Have fun!

Keep Moving, Be Well,

Janet

These weekly blogs are general guidelines. These guidelines apply to patients who are cleared by a physician for the type of exercise described. Please contact your physician with any concerns or questions. Always report any symptoms associated with exercise, such as pain, irregular heartbeats, and dizziness or fainting, to your physician.

Please share these posts with anyone you know interested in losing weight with or without weight loss surgery.  Click here to learn more about the UMass Memorial Weight Center

1 Comment

by | January 9, 2018 · 6:45 pm

Thank You New York Times!

I came across this article “is it good to sweat” from the New York Times Ask Well section.

Sweating is one myth that seems to hang around in the fitness world no matter what the science says.  Check it out if you find yourself thinking sweat = a good workout.

Don’t sweat it! Just Keep Moving and Be Well,

Janet

Leave a comment

by | August 2, 2017 · 6:09 pm

Myth #10 – Toning and Sculpting

Words and images promoting toning and sculpting the body through exercise seem to be  everywhere we turn.   The wonders of technology provide us with images of people going from flabby to firm arms and legs and from muffin-top to muscular core.  The technology makes it look so easy… and possible.

Unfortunately these tout the wonders of computer science rather than movement science.  The body does not burn more fat in an area when we exercise that area.  So sit ups and triceps exercise will not but fat in these “problem areas”.  We just do not have as much control over how exercise makes our body appear as the popular images lead us to believe.   Fortunately there are real benefits of exercise and focusing on them keeps us motivated with real results!

What does work?

  1. A healthy attitude of self  kindness for the body you do have!  Research consistently shows that people who are kind and compassionate to themselves when making healthy changes are much more likely to stick to those changes than those who are critical of themselves.
  2. Let go of the idea that you can spot reduce (exercise a part of the body to lose more fat there).  It is just not science based!   As an example, go back to our discussion of the true job of core exercises as a guide for true exercise in this area of the body.  When you see ads with images of changed bodies, know the images have most likely been altered to get your attention.  Its just not reality based.
  3. Be consistent with a balance between cardiovascular exercise and strength training in the ways we have

    adventure-1834841__480

    been discussing here on Keep Moving Weekly.

  4. Set function goals rather than “form” goals.  We have much more control over how our body functions than how it looks.  What do you want to be easier?  Golf? Playing with children? Climbing stairs? Travel? Housecleaning? Walking?  Develop your exercise plan based on how you want to function better.  Based on the reality of how the body works, these goals lead to lasting motivation.
  5. Work within your genetics.   If your goal is to look better, instead of trying to “get a body” that looks like someone else,  be the best you that you can be.
  6. Celebrate You! Keep yourself off the downward spiral of comparison, competition and self-criticism.  Set your own goals based on what you want and what is really possible and celebrate each day what you accomplished to get there.

Keep Moving, Be Well

Janet

Please share these posts with anyone you know interested in losing weight with or without weight loss surgery.  Click here to learn more about the UMass Memorial Weight Center

These weekly blogs are general guidelines. These guidelines apply to patients who are cleared by a physician for the type of exercise described. Please contact your physician with any concerns or questions. Always report any symptoms associated with exercise, such as pain, irregular heartbeats, and dizziness or fainting, to your physician.

Leave a comment

by | May 3, 2017 · 6:06 pm

Myth #9: “It will be easier when…”

crocus-292306__480If you ever doubt humans are optimistic, talk to a New Englander in spring!   As the snow melts, so does the weight of winter on our motivation to move.  We feel the hope of longer days and walking outside without fear of slipping on ice.  Its wonderful!!!

Now, I don’t want to be a buzz kill.  I believe in optimism and do not want to squash any of it . However, I know from experience, a bit of realism this time of year can help us stay optimistic all year long.

OK… Brace your self – here comes the reality… Winter will return.  Breathe…. it will be OK!  Lets use this optimistic energy to ready ourselves now for next winter.  As they say “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!”

Chose your favorite way to take notes and  jot down your thoughts:

  • How does my body feels right now at the end of winter? 
  • How do I want it to feel?
  • What was my best experience with exercising during the winter months?
  • What did I learn from that experience I can use now?
  • What are the challenges to exercising in the winter?
  • What do I want to try next winter based upon what I know about my successes and challenges? 

Take your plan and put it where you will see it in October of this year.  Now you can rest easy knowing winter may be a bit easier with a plan in place.

Keep in mind, this optimism also shows up when we are setting out on a weight loss bicycle-788733__480plan.  The idea that “when I lose weight things will be easier”, can cause us to put off dealing with the true challenges to exercising regularly.  Take an honest look here as well.  What challenges will not go away not matter how much you weight?  What can you do to build your confidence in handling them now rather than hoping they will take care of themselves when you are at your goal weight.

Ok, enough realism! Lets get back to that Spring optimism!

Keep Moving, Be Well,
Janet

Please share these posts with anyone you know interested in losing weight with or without weight loss surgery.  Click here to learn more about the UMass Memorial Weight Center

These weekly blogs are general guidelines. These guidelines apply to patients who are cleared by a physician for the type of exercise described. Please contact your physician with any concerns or questions. Always report any symptoms associated with exercise, such as pain, irregular heartbeats, and dizziness or fainting, to your physician.

Leave a comment

by | April 4, 2017 · 4:08 pm

Myth #8: The Fitness “Expert”

Fitness expert

When you seek a professional to give you advice or provide a service, whether it is for electrical wiring in your home or getting a haircut, what do you look for? Of course you look to a source you can trust – a professional with the required certification, training, and experience.  It is important to know that the field of fitness has no requirements for professionals. Anyone can call themselves a fitness expert. Our source for advice about how to move and be well is sadly under-regulated and as a result, full of myths and mindsets that are not science-based. This means that right now, you, as a fitness consumer, need to stay educated or your exercise advice may lead you in the opposite direction of the motivation and fitness you are seeking.

Next time you listen to advice about exercise on TV or the internet, notice why they call themselves an “expert.”  Are they highlighting that they  a) have a personal success story,  b) were successful as an athlete, or c) trained someone famous? These are all red flags! Even if they are certified, know that there are no requirements for certification programs and no one is ensuring that person’s certification is up to date. Our professional organizations for degrees and certified exercise professionals are working on this, but it is a very slow process!

Currently, there are two sites that provide helpful information about fitness professionals for consumers. Use these sites to find a qualified professional who holds a certification that is accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA). This means the certification exam has met set standards for the exercise professional’s role as defined by the U.S. Department of Labor.

The United States Registry of Exercise Professionals maintains a list of professionals with any accredited certification. The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) is the “gold standard” for certifying exercise professionals. The ACSM continuously clarifies the various levels of training for exercise professionals,  defining their role and scope of practice clearly. This makes it easier to find a professional who has the right level of training for you, whether you are without health concerns and looking for a qualified personal trainer or have a health concern and need a clinical exercise professional to safely guide you with exercise. Check the ACSM ProFinder to find professionals with this level of certification and training in your area.

fitness-1730325__480

The myth here is that just because someone looks fit they know about how to help you get fit too.   Most important is to trust your instincts.   If the advice you are receiving is not leading to feeling better right away, keep searching for the right professional for you.  Remember, you don’t need to suffer now to feel good later. If exercise is causing increased pain, speak up.  If the professional you are working with tells you the pain is necessary to lose weight,  walk away from it and find a new approach.   My hope is that some day, this will be easier for you as a consumer. Until then, let’s not let the confusion get in the way of exercising consistently and enjoying movement.

Keep Moving, Be Well,

Janet

Please share these posts with anyone you know interested in losing weight with or without weight loss surgery.  Click here to learn more about the UMass Memorial Weight Center

These weekly blogs are general guidelines. These guidelines apply to patients who are cleared by a physician for the type of exercise described. Please contact your physician with any concerns or questions. Always report any symptoms associated with exercise, such as pain, irregular heartbeats, and dizziness or fainting, to your physician.

 

Leave a comment

by | March 28, 2017 · 4:10 pm