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Todays digital world provides a limitless amount of information surrounding health and fitness, most of which can feel overwhelming to even the most experienced gym goer. Worthwhile information can become lost in false claims and fad fitness trends making it incredibly difficult to decipher the right information. This article clearly highlights 10 of the biggest health myths in order to allow you to feel more confident in your knowledge and make a difference to your overall health and fitness.

Imagine it…the 5am alarm, morning stretches, green juice and a work-out before the world wakes up. Whilst this scenario has been promoted in the fitness industry to be the best way to make healthy changes, it has also been proven that there are many other benefits that come with working out later in the day. Australian researchers found that those who introduce exercise in the afternoon enjoy more significant health benefits than those who introduce exercise in the morning. Living a healthier lifestyle doesn’t mean you have to change your whole routine, just working out at the most convenient time for you will actually increase the likelihood that you will be more consistent with healthy changes. Bryce Hastings, Les Mills Head of Research, says: “While there’s a chance your body will burn calories differently at different times of the day, these differences will be minimal compared to the benefit of exercising regularly. How much you benefit from exercise is closely linked to the amount of consistent physical activity you do.”

The stereotype that HIIT is only for super fit people that are younger and more agile isn’t one we support at Activ8. People of all ages and of all abilities can benefit from HIIT. We looked into this study which involved a group of seniors doing different types of exercise, results found that those who did two HIIT workouts a week for five years saw the most dramatic effect on their quality of life and fitness levels. Another comprehensive study of both athletes and sedentary men revealed that a man in his late 60s can cut his biological age by 20 years through HIIT workouts. Professional sports and fitness research scientist, Dr. Jinger Gottschall, said regardless of age if you’re new to exercise it is best to get your body used to exercise, with 6-12 weeks of consistent moderate-intensity exercise including strength, cardio and core/flexibility training each week before adding HIIT into your exercise routine. To find the best classes for you visit our website. 

Despite being described as the ‘most important meal of the day’, many people now choose to skip breakfast as fasting is growing in popularity. There is little evidence to show which approach is the most beneficial, but researchers have found those who eat breakfast are likely to consume more calories overall and tend to have a greater body weight. However, it is important to mention that eating breakfast provides a good opportunity to fuel your body with nutritious food; with breakfast being a meal that is often comprised of higher fibre foods such as, whole grains from bread and cereal, or fruit and vegetables. Same goes for protein, maybe in the form of eggs, milk, or yogurt. If we don’t eat breakfast, we have one less meal in which to get the nutrition we need for our day.

“Women often have a misguided perception that strength training will make them look bulky. But it won’t!” says Erin Maw, Les Mills Presenter and creator of the Strength Development program. “When people have extreme gains and look remarkably muscly, it’s because they combined a number of factors; nutrition, supplements and really specific and strategic training. Strength training will make you strong, it will make you powerful, but resistance workouts alone won’t build a bulky body.” Research shows high repetition strength training generates a lactate response, a subsequent increase in growth hormone, and a long-term calorie burn effect that helps you build strength without bulk.

Whilst raw, whole, unprocessed foods offer many health benefits it is important not to rely solely on them as it could ultimately reduce the number of essential nutrients such as protein, iron and omega-3 that you would normally get from cooked foods.

Furthermore, just because something is raw, wheat-free, dairy-free and sugar-free, this doesn’t make it a health food. Raw sweet treats can be very energy-dense, usually because they’re based on nuts, honey, dried fruit and coconut and they can even worsen the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.

There is little evidence to show whether 10,000 is the gold standard for steps but researchers have found there are plenty of benefits linked to hitting the 10,000-step target. There are also studies that show you can still benefit from doing less than the recommended 10,000 steps, for example, taking 5,000 or more steps a day is associated with a lower risk of heart disease and strokes. In evaluation, doing more steps does improve overall health even if you don’t manage to get the full 10,000! A great way to increase your daily steps is through our cardio based fitness classes such as Body Step.

Australian Scientist Professor Rob Newton has spent years testing exercise prescriptions on the chronically ill and believes that exercise, not bed rest, is the answer. His recommendation is to be physically active on most days, if not every day. “Even if you’re extremely unwell, if you adopt a ‘rest attitude’, you will only have a worse outcome. There is always some exercise you can do.” He adds: “If you’re sedentary and your immune system is compromised because of that, then you’re more likely to get colds and flu and you’re more likely to have more serious effects from these illnesses.” Our Chair Based and Activ+ classes provide a really good way to get back into exercise through gentle movements that have massive benefits.

What happens to fat when you ‘burn’ it is something the majority of exercisers are unclear on – 98 percent of health and fitness professionals surveyed were also unsure of the answer! Many believe fat cells are transformed into muscle cells, or that fat cells leave the body via the colon. There’s also the misconception that fat is converted into energy and lost as heat (perhaps based on the ‘energy in equals energy out’ assumption). The truth is, when you begin to run low on fuel you produce a hormone that, when mixed with oxygen, breaks down fat to use its energy. When fat is metabolized, it needs to go somewhere. Once converted to COand water, over 80 percent of each measurement of fat leaves the body as CO2, the rest is released as sweat and urine.

Whilst researchers have put forward the idea that red wine contains enough antioxidants to prevent coronary artery disease Professor David Cameron-Smith, an expert in nutrition for optimal health, says that “Alcohol (ethanol) is, in fact, a neural depressant and toxin,” and that it can have a depressive effect when consumed in large quantities or too frequently. Alcohol can also impact your exercise efforts as the bodies repair and re-synthesis processes can take days, and when combined with the dehydrating effects of alcohol and its ability to impair liver function, it makes it harder for the human body to replenish the stores of glycogen (sugar) needed for aerobic activity. Alcohol can also directly interfere with the protein synthesis pathways in muscles, reducing their ability to repair and rebuild  after exercise. Bearing this in mind it is important to mention that occasional alcohol consumption can deliver a short-term euphoria and a sense of relaxation without having any effect on overall health.

Contrary to popular belief, taking time out on the sofa is not the best way to deal with signs of burnout, stress and exhaustion. A recent study has highlighted a far better remedy… exercise. Scientists found mentally worn-out individuals enjoyed significantly better recovery for cognitive flexibility, mood, tiredness, self-perceived cognitive capacity, and motivation when they got moving. Both cycling and aerobic workouts have been identified to greatly improve general mood and wellness; why not come and try one of our group cycle connect or our aqua-fit classes and see the benefits for yourself.

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