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Top 10 common fitness myths

WebMD Feature
Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks

It can be tricky to separate fitness fact from fiction. When it comes to exercise we often believe myths and half-truths that we pick up along the way.

Just because your friend gave you this advice, or the man on the treadmill next to you passed on this tip, it doesn't necessarily mean it's the right thing to do.

These mistaken beliefs could be the reason why working out isn't getting the best results. But what's actually true and what's just old hat or faddy nonsense?

We asked the experts - the REAL fitness professional experts - to clear up a few common fitness myths for us.

1. No pain, no gain

It's a long held belief that if you don't feel the burn in your muscles after a workout you've not trained hard enough.

"This is not the case," says Angela Ioannou, fitness manager at Everyone Active. "After a tough session in the gym you may experience Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS). This is your body adapting to better prepare your muscles for further physiological stress. This is not a bad thing, and the pain should subside after a few days. However, don't be fooled into thinking that DOMS is a strong indicator of how hard you have worked in the gym. The effects will vary from person to person, and the pain often lessens over time as your muscles become conditioned to a higher volume of resistance training," adds Angela.

2. Exercise makes you thin

If only that were true! That's not to say exercise doesn't play a role in weight loss but it shouldn't be used as an excuse to overeat.

"One thing I hear a lot is the mistaken belief that if you can exercise, you can eat what you like without gaining weight," says Jane Simons, fitness expert, instructor and running club coach. "Unfortunately, unless you're training for an Ironman, this isn't really true! In order to lose weight, or specifically body fat, you need to create a calorie deficit."

Jane continues: "The mistake a lot of people make is that they will 'reward' themselves with larger helpings of food after a workout because they've 'earned' it. An average studio class will burn only about 300-400 calories - if you pop to the chip shop after a class and consume 1,000 calories you have just undone all your hard work!"

While exercise will make you stronger and fitter and healthier, it can only help you lose body fat if you don't over-compensate for working out by eating too much.

"There's a great saying that 'you can't out-train a bad diet' and it's really true so keep an eye on what goes in, as well as what's burned off," adds Jane.

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