Balance, Behavioral Medicine, Cognitive Reframing, Cognitive Restructuring, Education, Exercise, Fitness, Health & Wellness, Human Performance, Mind-Body, Physical Fitness, Positive Attitude, Self-care, Stress Management

The Facts About Exercise: Don’t Make These “Myth”-stakes – Part 1 of 3

Welcome to Spring! As the weather warms up, many people are encouraged to “get fit” for the summer season. If it has been awhile since you have exercised, you may want to take a moment to get some guidelines on how to set realistic goals for getting started (Click Here). There are a few things you should know that will help you safely reach your goal of getting back into shape.

It is surprising how much misinformation exists on any number of topics. Exercise is no exception. Many people are willing to share “wisdom” from their personal experiences, and while this may seem helpful to the less experienced, it is wise to check the facts for yourself. This is part one of a three-part post that will address a number of exercise-related myths which may appear to be sound advice, and then share with you the behind-the-scenes facts. And always remember: when starting an exercise program, it is wise to check with your personal health care professional.

MYTH 1: Jogging is the best aerobic exercise.
FACT: The best exercise is the one that the individual enjoys and will pursue regularly (four or five days per week). Additionally, it is the one that helps the individual work toward his/her fitness goal without causing injury. The following five activities are generally considered the best for cardiovascular conditioning/fitness: running, swimming, bicycling, walking, and cross-country skiing. The optimum approach to fitness may well be a combination of the five coupled with an active lifestyle. Of the five exercises listed, walking is probably the activity most easily accessible to the greatest number of people. It requires the least amount of equipment (a good pair of walking shoes), can be done most anywhere, and is within the abilities of almost everyone.

MYTH 2: Strenuous exercise causes “Athlete’s Heart” and is bad for your health.

Exercise Myths

MYTH 2: Strenuous exercise causes “Athlete’s Heart” and is bad for your health.
FACT: The heart is a muscle and, like other muscles, when exercised it tends to become stronger and more efficient.

FACT: The heart is a muscle and, like other muscles, when exercised it tends to become stronger and more efficient. Medical authorities tell us that fear about strenuous exercise causing heart damage is unfounded. Other muscles will fatigue during the stress of physical activity long before a healthy heart can be adversely affected. In fact, the American College of Sports Medicine, one of the main groups who studies exercise, has gone so far as to suggest that it is more dangerous to your heart and health to be sedentary than it is to exercise regularly.

MYTH 3: The older you are, the less exercise you need.
FACT: Generally, as we age we need as much, perhaps even more, exercise than when we are younger. As we grow older, we tend to become more sedentary. This creates problems with circulation, flexibility, muscle tone, and endurance. As we age, it’s a good idea to lessen the intensity of exercise while increasing the duration.

MYTH 4: Children do not need regular exercise.
FACT: The average child needs regular exercise, and this is not new information. Results of the 1985 National School Population Fitness Survey (Ruff, 1986, p. 31) showed that 50 percent of the girls aged 6-17 and 30 percent of boys aged 6-12 were unable to run a mile in less than 10 minutes. Likewise, the recent Surgeon General’s Report on Physical Activity emphasizes that our children and youth are not getting enough exercise to meet the demands of their growth and development. Schools have seriously cut back on required physical education classes. Habits established in childhood often last a lifetime. Children need to develop skills and attitudes that not only develop their fitness but help establish lifetime sport and recreation habits.

MYTH 5: You should apply heat to make injuries heal faster and feel better.
FACT: The consensus currently among trainers, sports medicine physicians, and physical therapists is to apply ice immediately in nearly all injuries and continue this for a minimum of 48 hours. The sooner ice is applied after the injury, the better. Most injuries are painful because of bleeding and swelling. Heating the injured area immediately after an injury causes more pain and swelling because heat stimulates blood flow and increases tissue swelling. Ice reduces the blood flow and dulls the pain, thereby minimizing internal bleeding and swelling. During the first 48 hours, you should apply ice for 10 to 20 minutes every hour or two, if possible, during your waking hours.

Check out Part 2 of this 3 Part series.

Remember to be good to you!

Copyright © 2013 by Gary L. Flegal, Ph.D.

Dr. Gary Flegal is a Behavioral Medicine and Health Specialist with a doctorate in “Health Education and Human Performance” from Michigan State University. He is an exciting and accomplished presenter and keynote speaker, presenting seminars for groups and companies on location and at conventions. His advanced training in stress management came to him while working in affiliation with the original Mind/Body Medical Institute at Harvard under the direction of Herbert Benson, M.D. and his staff. In addition to corporate presentations, Dr. Flegal keeps a busy schedule working with individual clients for a variety of stress-related issues, including anger management, quitting smoking, learning to relax and manage stress, and learning self-hypnosis.

Dr. Flegal’s other passion is magic. He has been a professional magician for over 30 years and continues practicing his art at every opportunity. These two passions work together beautifully as he illustrates stress management concepts with fun, visual, and “magical” demonstrations in his stress management workshops and seminars. It also allows him to share stress management with his magic audiences wherever he goes because “Laughter is the Best Medicine!” Gary is a Reiki Master and a Certified Consulting Hypnotist, certified by the National Guild of Hypnotists.

Dr. Flegal’s specialties include stress management, anger management, positive behavior change, insomnia, smoking cessation, and exercise physiology. For individual appointments, speaking engagements, or more information, contact Gary at Professional Stress Management Services in Nashville, Tennessee, at (615)812-7280 or through his Web site:

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Posts by Dr. Gary Flegal

March 2013


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Stress can cause severe health problems if not managed properly. In extreme cases stress can lead to physical symptoms which can even cause death. While stress management techniques have been shown to have a positive effect on reducing stress, the information on this website is for guidance only. Readers should seek the advice of suitably qualified health professionals if they have any concerns over stress-related illnesses or if stress is causing significant or persistent unhappiness. Health professionals should also be consulted before any major change in diet or levels of exercise.
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