4 Common Myths Regarding Exercise

Dr. Scott Sanderson

Myth 1-  You can exercise yourself skinny

Exercise alone doesnít work!  Several very well done studies have shown that simply increasing activity will NOT lead to weight loss.  This concept is very shocking for some people who have had it pounded into their heads that all they have to do to lose weight is exercise more.  They spend hours on the elliptical or treadmill and never see any real fat loss results. Your body is very good at maintaining homeostasis or a equilibrium.  Whether you realize it or not, when you start exercising you will compensate for the calories burned (that you intended to cause weight loss) with increased intake of food and decreased activity in other areas of your life or both.  Do not take this the wrong way, exercise is a vital part of any weight loss program but exercise ALONE will not give you the fat loss youíre looking for. When combined with proper nutrition, exercise will lead to increased fat loss when compared to just proper nutrition alone.  Regardless of whether exercise alone can cause weight loss, exercise will provide many other health benefits and regular exercise is crucial for optimal health.  Proper nutrition and exercise are the foundation of the Elite Health Hawaii Program.  Each patient receives a fully individualized plan that is designed specifically for them and will be adapted by the patientís nutritionist, exercise counselor and physician as each individual patient progresses.

Myth 2-  Aerobic training is all that matters for weight loss

Training anaerobically has two major benefits- increased fat loss and reduction in mortality. More and more studies are coming out each week showing that high intensity exercise performed at an anaerobic intensity level will lead to more fat loss than long duration low intensity exercise. Plus, it saves you time and there are significant anti-aging effects. You get  more fat  loss and spend less time exercising. That being said, make sure that you are cleared by a physician prior to engaging in this intense level of exercise. In regards to living longer, studies have shown a linear relationship between VO2 max and mortality. As your VO2 max increases, your risk of premature mortality decreases sharply.  What is your VO2 max?  It is the maximal amount of oxygen that your body can utilize during exercise.  It is a measure of how long you can maintain a high intensity of exercise.  VO2 max is a very good measurement of cardiovascular fitness and is one of the core tests in our Executive Health Evaluation.  Several studies have shown that even small improvement in the VO2 max is associated with significant improvement in survival.  You can improve your VO2 max by either losing fat or increasing your peak exercise capacity (mostly through anaerobic training). With Elite Health Hawaii you will accomplish both in a safe physician monitored program.  One study found a nearly 50% reduction in premature cardiovascular disease related mortality as well as a 33% reduction in all cause mortality when patients moved from the lowest end of the VO2 max spectrum up just one quintile to the second lowest group.  The researchers also found that this trend continued and that the more that patientís increased their VO2 max, the more they decreased their risk of premature mortality!

Myth 3-  Exercise duration matters more than exercise intensity

Iíll preface this by saying that all patients beginning a new exercise program should undergo an evaluation by a physician in order to make sure they are safe to exercise.  That being said, almost all patientís (even heart failure patients) can and should exercise at some level.  High intensity interval training, done under the supervision of a physician, has even been shown to be beneficial in post cardiac arrest patients. Where many people go wrong is when they sacrifice intensity for time, they spend hours exercising at low intensity and get frustrated by a lack of results.  Cardiovascular disease risk is not significantly improved by exercise that does not significantly increase heart rate.  Less intense exercise will provide health benefits but will not provide the improvements in longevity that come with a program designed to increase your VO2 max.  Do not go out and start killing yourself with intensity in the name of increasing longevity. A proper heart rate zone must be determined for you and VO2 max testing is the best way to determine what your individual heart rate zone should be.  This will change with exercise but varies significantly from patient to patient which is why an individualized plan is so important.  You need to push the intensity to get the decrease mortality risk and fat loss but you must do it safely.  Once they start their individualized plan, most Elite Health Hawaii patients find that they are able to spend less time exercising while getting much better results.

Myth 4-  Weight lifting will make you bulky and is only for bodybuilders