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5 Fitness Myths Debunked

man on Planet Fitness treadmill winking at camera
There is a lot of information circling out there when it comes to our health. So, what should you really believe?

by Cheryl S. Grant

There is a lot of information circling out there when it comes to health and wellness.

Does exercise really make you hungry? Are crunches the best way to tone your core? You might hear that routinely performing 30 crunches can lead to a six-pack, but then read that drinking a glass of red wine is equivalent to an hour at the gym.

So, what should you really believe? We've cleared up five common fitness myths so you can skip the sensational headlines and focus on achieving your goals.

1. Exercise Makes You Hungry

Sometimes, people might use exercise as an excuse to go overboard on their favorite foods (hello, Taco Tuesday!). And yes, you may occasionally feel an urge to eat when you first leave the gym. But a new study from the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) found that working out can actually make you want to eat less.

ACSM researchers discovered that intense exercise was more effective at cutting calorie consumption than just cutting calories alone. They compared two groups: one cut down on how much they were eating and the other ran on the treadmill for an hour and a half. When each group was faced with an all-you-can-eat buffet, the group that was dieting consumed more calories than the runners. This led researchers to conclude that when we exercise, our hunger hormone decreases while our hunger-suppressing hormone increases.

2. The Best Time to Exercise Is in the Morning

You've probably heard this one time and time again. Although there are studies that show hitting the gym early in the day can better prepare the body to burn calories, consistency is far more important.

If exercise becomes a daily habit, then your body will naturally burn calories more efficiently. Also, if exercise is your way of burning off steam and something you do for overall health, then the time of day isn't really a factor.

3. Crunches Are the Only Way to Tone Your Core

This is another one of those fitness myths that needs to be buried. Crunches may be a good way to tone your midsection, but plankspushups, and cardio can be just as effective. These exercises are a great alternative to crunches because they engage the core.

Another bonus to trying these exercises instead of crunches? You won't be tugging on your neck when you get tired. Each of these movements force you to use your stomach muscles. Start off by holding a plank for 15 seconds and you'll feel the difference almost immediately.

4. Lifting Heavy Weights Will Cause You to Bulk Up

If you lift heavy weights, your muscles will get bulky. Seems like a logical thought, right? Well, if you're not going for that look, fear not — you don't have to completely avoid strength training.

Your muscles will likely get toned from using heavy weights, but you are not going to turn into the Hulk. By lifting weights, you are actually decreasing your chances of developing osteoporosis, improving your posture, and helping your body burn calories more efficiently, according to ScienceDaily.

5. If You're Not Sweating, You're Not Burning Fat

It's hard to know where this myth originated but, the truth is, there are several factors that go into how much each person sweats. We all perspire at different rates. Not to mention, the temperature and humidity in the gym will also play a role!

A better way to judge how many calories you have burned is to invest in a fitness tracker or keep an eye on the number of calories burned on the cardio equipment you are using. As always, please consult with a physician prior to beginning any exercise program. See full medical disclaimer here.