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Fitness Fables

Is no pain, no gain really true when it comes to exercise? Does the amount you sweat really correlate to the amount of fat you're losing? Experts take a look at these and other fitness fables.


Drinking Water Causes Cramps. "Cramps are actually a symptom of dehydration, so this is an old wives tale," says Bryant. "Basically, drinking water will help ensure you are properly hydrated, which will ultimately reduce your risk of sustaining or experience cramps."

Lifting Weights Can Make You Look Bulky. "This is a myth that deters a lot of women from strength training, when in fact, what determines the amount of muscle bulk a person has is largely dependent on genetic factors," says Bryant.

So for the typical woman, and the typical man, the chances of looking like Arnold Schwarzenegger are slim.

"To keep things in perspective, less than 1% of women, and less than 10% of males, have the genetic predisposition to naturally develop muscle bulk in response to strength training," says Bryant.

Weight training is also an important part of any exercise plan, according to the American Heart Association web site. While aerobic activities help your heart and lungs and stretching improves your flexibility, weight training will improve your strength and endurance, and a combination of all three makes for an optimal exercise plan.

Exercising Is a Sure-Fire Way to Lose Weight. While it may seem obvious that exercise will result in weight loss, that's not necessarily the case.

"What can happen is an individual may gain weight because she is changing her body composition," says Bryant. "She's losing fat tissue, but gaining lean tissue, which is a good thing. So while you may gain, you'll start to notice that your clothes will fit better because lean tissue takes up less space than fat tissue because it's more dense."

And, of course, you need to take your diet into consideration.

"If you have a person who has a poor diet and she's inactive, and then she starts to exercise but continues the poor diet, she may lose weight, but it's only a modest loss," says Bryant. "The best method for achieving a change in body composition is to combine exercise with a sound eating plan."

You Can Target One Area of Your Body for Weight Loss. "This is a myth, pure and simple," Bryant tells WebMD. "No matter how much exercise you do for a specific region of the body, it's physiologically impossible to lose body fat in a targeted area."

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