Workout and Health Myths

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-20-2003
Workout and Health Myths
Sat, 08-29-2009 - 9:51am

Let's start debunking myths. I know we've done this in the past but it's always good to revisit. I'll start:

1) Drinking water--you don't need 8 glasses of water a day. You need liquids, all count, including coffee and alcohol which aren't dehydrating as people think (another myth). I've heard far too many women talk about dieting and the first thing they start with is drowning themselves in water. It's been great for the bottled water people, though!

The water myth
Written by Denise Dahdah, NetDoctor journalist
In recent years, drinking large quantities of water has become one of the mantras for healthy living. Every magazine has had its version of 'drink water and be healthy' or 'drink water and lose weight'. But do we really need to drink the mythical eight glasses of water every day?

Doctors advise that we should drink at least 1.2 litres (2.5 pints) of water a day.
Human beings are made up of around 75 per cent water. Two thirds of our bodily water is found inside our cells, with the rest between the cells and in our blood.
Water provides the medium in which all the body's chemical reactions take place and the solution in which foodstuffs are dissolved and transported. It helps regulate our body temperature through sweating.
A 2 per cent loss in the water surrounding our cells can result in a 20 per cent drop in energy levels. That's how important water is for us.
Water is the most vital requirement for human life. While our bodies can survive without food for around three weeks, without water we can only live for three days.
Dr Keith Barnard, GP, says: 'The body tries desperately hard to retain water if there is no intake, so hardly any urine is passed. If a person is in a normal temperature and not exposed to the wind they could probably last longer than three days - maybe as long as a week.'
We cannot live long without water because we have no reserves of it in our body.
So do you really need to drink at least eight glasses of water every day?
On average, your body loses 1-1.5 litres of water a day. If someone is undertaking a lot of activity, and therefore breathing and sweating more, they would lose more.
Dr Barnard says: 'It is not essential to always drink a set amount regardless of circumstances. The body is very good at regulating water.
'If you drink too much, your body will get rid of the excess, so you will pass urine more often and it will look almost clear.
'If you don't drink enough, your body will save water by concentrating your urine, which will look darker, and your brain will tell you that you need more water by making you feel thirsty.'
Another thing to keep in mind is that water is found in fruits, vegetables, milk and juices. Water from these sources will go some way to meeting your daily requirements, so people do not need to drink a full eight glasses of water on top of this (see Table 1).
Senior nutrition scientist Gail Goldberg says: 'There is a perception generated, for example by newspapers and magazine articles, that all our water requirement has to come from "water".
'My colleagues and I would never say that people should only drink water. It's a matter of individual choice and availability.'
Table 1: Examples of the water content of some foods according to the British Nutrition Foundation
Apples (100g) 84.5g
Grapes (100g) 81.8g
Milk (1 pint) 531.8g
Broccoli (85g) 77.43g
Sweet corn (85g) 59.42g
Tomato soup (220g) 185.24g
The Macrobiotic Association of Great Britain (MAGB) says that a person following a macrobiotic diet does not necessarily need to drink as much water as someone who is on a regular diet.
Macrobiotic cook and teacher Bob Lloyd says: 'The type of foods we eat contain a lot of water and are less dehydrating, therefore there is less need to drink.'
Can drinking water help you lose weight?
A reasonable water intake can help with weight loss. We need around half a cup of water for every 100 calories we burn.
Dr Roger Henderson, GP, explains: 'Drinking before eating may help you lose weight because the brain can generate energy from water and food.
'When water is used instead of food then none is stored as fat - as is the case with unused food - and excess water passes out of the body with no weight gain.
'Drinking before food helps to fill the stomach and increases the chance of weight loss by making the person eat less.'
So how much should you drink?
The minimum figures for the body's daily water loss are 500ml through urine and 700ml through breathing and sweating.
Doctors advise that to be on the safe side we should drink at least 1.2 litres of liquids (2.5 pints). So, remember, although water is essential, you don't need to become obsessed about drinking eight glasses a day!
Last updated 20.03.2007

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-09-2008
Sat, 08-29-2009 - 1:19pm

Thanks for the reminder.

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-20-2003
Sat, 08-29-2009 - 6:35pm
I used to get in that much water and was constantly in the bathroom. I remember asking the doctor because I thought it might be a sign of diabetes. He told me to stop drinking so much water!

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-20-2003
Mon, 08-31-2009 - 8:49am

Here's another...pilates will give you nice long lean muscles. Unless it's going to stretch my arms and legs longer, I'll never have long muscles. I like this article about it.

Now, we promise there is more to come on this topic and in greater depth. However, we here at Aegis are having such a giggle over some of the mountebanks who proliferate in the fitness industry that we had to put a post up about it. In particular we found great amusement over recent advice in a national newspaper that women shouldn't lift over 3lbs in weight in the gym. This particular 'expert' who name drops to gain credibility is one of the prime culprits of this sort of nefarious storytelling. Another of their classics is that they only work the small muscles, and in doing so, this helps to lengthen the longer bigger muscles, which according to her, you shouldn't work in the gym or you'll swell up and become bulky and masculine. This is their 'unique' system, and apparently everyone else is getting it wrong...?

Unfortunately for the general public, there will always be those people who market their 'systems' as being unique based on some spurious claims that often are the antithesis of well-established physiological principles. Another of these is the classic comment that activities like Pilates can give you 'long lean muscles', which thankfully is a myth only talked about by a few, but again enough to make it an often-repeated phrase. Check out THIS article by the late Mel Siff, who provides ample excellent rebuttals of many of these common myths.

Check out this video below of Pilates in action...

Let me give you a quick lesson in basic physiology. ANY activity involves a shortening AND a lengthening of muscles. Adding resistance can cause the hypertrophy, or growth, of muscles. For women, this potential is greatly reduced due to their hormonal system not favouring size gains (amongst other reasons). If muscles are getting smaller from training then that is called catabolism or atrophy and is NOT desirable folks! Does it mean that the more you do the longer your muscles get? Hopefully not as if so then all your joints will become unstable and you won't be able to move....You can reduce levels of bodyfat through training of course, but not through 1000 pelvic tilts. Secondly, muscles are the length that they are - and although there may be reductions in sarcomere (the microscopic 'units' of muscle) amounts through chronic postural shortness - any activity that works the muscle through the full range of movement will help maintain or restore flexibility. It is a MYTH that weight training makes you inflexible - if you don't believe me, just check out this video

These guys lift weights ALL THE TIME and HEAVY ones too! But they also have amazing flexibility....and it isn't just them - many other athletes manage to develop outstanding strength and flexibility (ever seen the physiques on top gymnasts??). It is an outdated concept, based on stereotypical impressions of muscular bodybuilders, that strength or weight training equates to poor flexibility. In just about all cases, the opposite is true.

Finally, the notion that weight training with more than 3lbs is detrimental to women is so wrong it verges almost irresponsible in terms of advice. Even more dangerous is giving this advice to 'real' women based on the training programme of a Hollywood A-lister with a private chef and questionable dietary habits - not to mention someone who is genetically tall, slender, and never really had an issue with her weight in the first place?

Jamie Eason (left) is well known for being a strong girl who regularly lifts weights (yes, heavy ones that weigh more than 3lbs), yet you'd be hard pressed to say she looks either bulky or lacks femininity.

When you consider that research has CLEARLY shown that a loss of muscle mass is the primary reason women gain weight as they age, it really makes no sense to suggest they use such small weights. A new-born baby weighs more than 3lbs, not to mention bikes, shopping, pushchairs, or in fact ANY job - police, fire service, military, whatever, will involve a need for strength. In fact, I have in the past highlighted countless studies, including a fascinating study on occupational fitness carried out in the U.S, that clearly showed the importance of high-intensity strength training in developing all-round fitness. Check out THIS study if you want to see the real EVIDENCE as opposed to the myths and hype.

Hold on, I have to go as Jenny from our team is deadlifting in the gym and its more than 3lbs.....we better stop her!!!!

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-20-2003
Mon, 08-31-2009 - 2:39pm
You can spot reduce, by doing exercises for that muscle group. No, you can "spot" tone and make that muscle bigger but it won't specifically reduce the fat in that area. Doing a thousand crunches a day won't give you a visible 6 pack--a hidden 6 pack, sure.

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-23-2006
Tue, 09-01-2009 - 11:36am
How about the whole carb thing?

L Signature

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-20-2003
Tue, 09-01-2009 - 1:09pm
I agree! We've replaced fear of fat with fear of carbs. I think Michael Pollan summed up the best way to eat, "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." He talks about it in In Defense of Food, how we no longer eat real food like broccoli but we eat pseudo foods, pumped up w/ what we think might be nutrients that are good for us but really don't know. Low carb, non fat ice cream isn't what our bodies need...and it doesn't even taste good!