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Top 9 Fitness Myths -- Busted!

Think you know the facts about getting fit? You may be surprised to learn how many are really fiction.

Fitness Myth No. 7: As long as you feel OK when you're working out, you're probably not overdoing it.

One of the biggest mistakes people tend to make when starting or returning to an exercise program is doing too much too soon. The reason we do that, says Schlifstein, is because we feel OK while we are working out.

 "You don't really feel the overdoing it part until a day or two later," he says.

No matter how good you feel when you return to an activity after an absence, Schlifstein says you should never try to duplicate how much or how hard you worked in the past.  Even if you don't feel it at the moment, you'll feel it in time, he says -- and it could take you back out of the game again.

Fitness Myth No. 8: Machines are a safer way to exercise because you're doing it right every time.

Although it may seem as if an exercise machine automatically puts your body in the right position and helps you do all the movements correctly, that's only true if the machine is properly adjusted for your weight and height, experts say.

"Unless you have a coach or a trainer or someone figure out what is the right setting for you, you can make just as many mistakes in form and function, and have just as high a risk of injury, on a machine as if you work out with free weights or do any other type of nonmachine workout," says Schlifstein.

Fitness Myth No. 9: When it comes to working out, you've got to feel some pain if you're going to gain any benefits.

Of all the fitness rumors ever to have surfaced, experts agree that the "no pain-no gain" holds the most potential for harm.

While you should expect to have some degree of soreness a day or two after working out, Schlifstein says, that's very different from feeling pain while you are working out.

"A fitness activity should not hurt while you are doing it, and if it does, then either you are doing it wrong, or you already have an injury," he says.

As for "working through the pain," experts don't advise it.  They say that if it hurts, stop, rest, and see if the pain goes away. If it doesn't go away, or if it begins again or increases after you start to work out, Schlifstein says, see a doctor.

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Reviewed on May 14, 2010

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