How to ‘Exercise Right’- Common Exercise Myths Busted!

We live in the age of technology and information overload. We are told to exercise and naturally we seek advice and opinions from others. With an overwhelming amount of information available to us, it is hard to tell fact from fiction. Let’s bust some common myths.


1.      No pain, no gain – FALSE

Regular aerobic physical activity reduces the risk of many health problems, such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, anxiety, depression, musculoskeletal problems, some cancers and unhealthy weight gain. The good news is pain won’t necessarily bring greater reward.

The Australian Physical Activity Guidelines for Adults, recommend a weekly accumulation of 300 minutes of moderate intensity activity or 150 minutes of vigorous activity, or a combination of both.

How do I know I am exercising at the right intensity?

Try the talk test:

Whilst exercising at a moderate intensity you breathe harder than at rest, but can hold a conversation uninterrupted. Pain free exercises may include:

  • Brisk walking
  • Gardening
  • Water aerobics.

A vigorous intensity exercise will leave you out of breath, making it hard to say more than a few words without pausing for a breath. Exercises may include:

  • Sprinting; running, swimming or cycling
  • Singles tennis
  • Hiking uphill with a heavy backpack.


2.      If I don’t sweat, I’m not losing weight – FALSE

Sweat is a biological response that cools your skin and regulates internal body temperature, it is how the body cools itself. There is considerable variability in sweating rates between individuals. It IS possible to burn a significant amount of energy without breaking a sweat. Losing weight requires burning kilojoules, not necessarily sweating profusely.

tips for losing weight

3.      I can’t commit enough time to exercise, so any attempt is a waste of time – FALSE

Tip: Reduce Sedentary Behaviour

Some physical activity is better than none, so for those who don’t feel they can launch straight into a vigorous routine that’s fine. Start by trying to reduce sedentary behavior by:

  • Minimising the amount of time spent in prolonged sitting
  • Parking your car an extra 5 – 10 minutes’ walk from work or the shops
  • Turning off the TV and enjoying some gardening.


Tip: Try Interval Training

Interval training is also another option to maximise your workout time. High-intensity workouts can protect you from harmful visceral fat (the blubber around your organs). Research from the University of Arkansas showed that those who alternated short bursts of more intense effort with slower intervals can burn an average of 25 per cent more kilojoules than those who exercised at a moderate pace.

A simple way to start would be to boost your afternoon walk by trying to increase your speed between the power poles, slow to catch your breath, and then speed up again. For the gym goes try and catch a TABATA class.


4.      Aerobic exercise is sufficient for optimal health – FALSE

In addition to aerobic exercise, the Australian physical activity guidelines now recommend 2-3 days per week of resistance training/muscle strengthening activity.

Why Resistance Train?

Research demonstrates that weight training, through building and maintenance of muscle tissue, contributes to the maintenance of functional abilities, prevents osteoporosis, and lower-back pain. It also positively affects risk factors such as insulin resistance, blood pressure and body fat; which are associated with diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.

Is Resistance Training Appropriate as I Age?

Yes. It is now recognised that resistance training is valuable for all ages, including the elderly. Benefits include improved posture, mobility, balance, and reduction in risk of falls.

How can I ‘Resistance Train’?

Strength training doesn’t have to be fancy or involve lifting huge weights. Try body weighted resistance options such as a Pilates class or practise some push ups, sit to stands or resistance banded exercises at home.


Research indicates that virtually all the benefits of resistance training are likely to be obtained in two 15- to 20-minute training sessions a week. Strength training should be performed with 8-12 repetitions of 8-10 different exercises that target all major muscle groups.

benefits of resistance training

5.      Women shouldn’t lift weights because it’ll make them bulky- FALSE

Some may avoid resistance training due to social stigmas or through fear of becoming the female hulk. Rest assured, testosterone is the key to increasing muscular size and men have 20 – 30 times the more testosterone than women, which is why they can bulk up so noticeably.

Women who regularly participate in resistance training can improve their health, boost metabolism, reduce the risk of Osteoporosis, and help develop good feelings about themselves. Strength training will also assist fat loss and help to keep it off.

Try a few bicep curls post cross trainer to help you reach your goals!


6.      Yoga is bad for my back – FALSE

Yoga has been proven to provide Yogi’s with physical, mental and emotional benefits, such as:

  • Reduced blood pressure
  • Stress reduction
  • Improved digestion
  • Postural awareness
  • Increased strength and flexibility
  • Improved balance
  • Development of focus and concentration.

Yoga can assist with back pain, especially if it is a muscular complaint as yoga does involve stretching and core strengthening components. However, for certain problems, such as a ruptured disc, yoga may irritate the injury in the acute phase.

If you have back pain seek your GP’s advice prior to commencing any exercise program. An exercise physiologist can prescribe a core strengthening program if required.


7.      Exercise is the best way to lose weight – FALSE

Our energy balance and weight is mostly determined by what we eat and our metabolic rate (the energy burnt at rest). How active we are impacts our energy balance to a small extent, so losing weight just by being active is very hard work. That’s not to say you can’t lose weight by increasing physical activity alone, but a combination of a healthy balanced diet together with regular physical activity is best.

For more information on The Australian Dietary Guidelines, nutrition calculators and recipes:

running exercise

8.      Exercise is bad for my Arthritis; It’ll make my joints worse – FALSE

Regular exercise is one of the most effective treatments for arthritis.

It can help to improve:

  • Mobility
  • Flexibility of joints
  • Muscle strength
  • Posture

It can decrease:

  • Pain
  • Fatigue (tiredness)
  • Muscle tension

There isn’t a one size fits all solution for those with arthritis. Generally, it is best to choose an activity that you enjoy, is convenient and low impact.

What is a low impact activity?

  • Walking
  • Exercising in water; hydrotherapy, swimming or gentle aqua
  • Strength training
  • Balance training; e.g. Tai chi
  • Yoga
  • Pilates
  • Cycling


Before jumping into a routine, it is recommended that a doctor or health care team is consulted. For more information:


9.      Doing crunches will help you to lose that belly fat – FALSE

As we advance through middle age, without deliberate counter measures like regular weight training, we tend to lose muscle mass and gain a higher proportion of body fat, which often rests in the midsection.

Our obsession with reducing our waistlines, quick fixes and the long-standing myth that we can ‘spot reduce’ fat with exercise unfortunately has led us astray. You won’t get sculpted, fat free abs by doing crunches alone.

There are two types of fat in this troublesome midsection. Subcutaneous fat, is the type you can grab, whereas visceral fat is out of our reach, it lies in the spaces surrounding our critical organs including the stomach, pancreas and kidneys.

Getting rid of the flab:

Losing abdominal fat brings vast benefits such as reduced blood pressure and improved cholesterol levels, especially from reducing dangerous visceral fat which succumbs to a combination of diet and exercise. Subcutaneous fat located under the skin around the waist covering your abdominals is more difficult to remove.

In terms of exercise, a program with both aerobic and resistance components is needed to bring belly fat under control, together with spot exercises like crunches and sit ups which tighten the abdominal muscles and core. Being able to see your abdominal muscles is related your overall percentage of body fat. If you don’t lose the belly fat, you won’t see your abs!


10. Your weight is the be all, end all – FALSE

Some people get caught up with constantly monitoring the scale. It can be demotivating when people don’t see changes, they feel they’re not accomplishing their goals and quit.  It is important to remember that your health has likely improved in other ways.

Increased exercise leads to a healthier lifestyle and mood. However, some changes in physiology aren’t readily seen; for example, changes in blood cholesterol levels and muscular tone.

Other ways of monitoring progress include; measuring body circumferences, skinfolds, body fat percentages, blood tests and fitness testing. So, hang in there!


For further guidance please seek advice from an Accredited Exercise Physiologist prior to starting a new exercise program.