Whether you’re running, jogging, walking or barely moving at all, the road to fitness is often a confusing journey.
Is it any wonder that, confronted with isokinetics, toning beds and Miracle Thigh Cream, so many of us instead choose cold beer, La-Z-Boys and Rocky Road ice cream?
“Only one of 10 people exercises on a regular basis,” said Edward Jackowski, author of “Hold It! You’re Exercising Wrong.” “Out of that 10 percent, only 1 percent exercises correctly.”
Although fitness experts agree that Americans have access to more and better information about exercise and good nutrition than ever before, they acknowledge that it’s hard to separate fact from fiction.
And that can keep people from exercising correctly - or exercising at all.
Donald Ardell, director of the University of Central Florida Wellness Center, believes in the power of good information to change people’s attitude toward exercise and good health.
“People have this notion that they are too old, too far gone or too lazy to get started,” said Ardell, publisher of a quarterly newspaper and author of a soon-to-be released book, “Health Tips from America’s Fitness Leaders.”
Here is a “best of” collection of fitness fallacies gleaned from Ardell, Jackowski and other experts, followed by the facts that should set you on the road to personal fitness or, if you’re already on the journey, make it easier to navigate.
Fallacy: No pain, no gain. If one is good, two is better.
Truth: Whether it’s exercise, dieting or vitamins, there can be too much of a good thing. Robert Brosmer, executive director of the Peggy and Philip Crosby Wellness Center in Winter Park, Fla., likes to coach people to “train, don’t strain.”
If you push yourself too hard, you’re likely to get hurt and have to stop exercising until you recover - a wasted effort, said Brosmer, coauthor of the book “Health & High Performance.”
Fallacy: Weight loss is a key part of getting fit.
Truth: Your weight has no direct bearing on your physical fitness level. “I have people who weigh less than 100 pounds and they are in the worst shape,” said Larry Stone, a longtime personal trainer in Orlando and former champion bodybuilder. “I’ve put models through my workout, and they are huffing and puffing.”
Getting in shape often means adding weight - shedding fat but picking up muscle. Jackowski warns that those who plan to trim inches using increasingly popular stairclimbing machines will likely end up with the opposite result, because such workouts add muscle to the thighs and buttocks.
Fallacy: It will take months of working out to achieve anything.
Truth: The road to fitness begins with the first step. “In a week’s time you can make significant changes,” said T.J. Brown, owner of TJ’s Body Consultants of Winter Park, Fla. Some of the most dramatic results take place early on as couch potatoes are suddenly injected with new energy, Brown says. Like money in the bank, a proper exercise regimen builds on itself, enriching you every step of the way.
Fallacy: If I get fit, my whole life will turn around.
Truth: Getting fit is certainly a good place to start, but fitness is not an end unto itself. “A focus on fitness as the answer is wrong,” Ardell said. “Personally, I think fitness is just a symptom of larger issues, such as whether you are glad to be here.”
Fallacy: Modern science and fitness gurus are getting closer to creating the perfect exercise machine or technique - a “breakthrough!”
Truth: There’s no such thing as the perfect machine or technique and never will be. “The best exercise,” said Brosmer, “is the one you are going to stick to.”
This sidebar ran with story: DON KARDONG’S TIPS Alternate days: The key to better fitness is to alternate days of training - running, jogging or walking - with days of rest for the body to recover. Unless you’re an expert, don’t try to run every day. Stress followed by recovery is the formula for success. Alternate activities: Early on in a running program, it’s a good idea to alternate jogging with walking, using the walking portion for recovery when you’re out of breath. Many experts even advise several weeks of walking sessions before attempting any jogging. It won’t be easy: When you begin a running program, expect several tough weeks while your body adjusts to this new activity. Fatigue and muscle discomfort are normal and will eventually go away, leaving you feeling better than ever.