There are many misconceptions when it comes to healthy habits. Are you really supposed to do 10,000 steps per day? Can you actually burn fat through food? And does evening exercise genuinely guarantee a bad night’s sleep? Luckily, health and wellness research has rapidly advanced in recent years. That means it’s easier to work out which ‘healthy’ habits you can skip, and which you should add to your routine. We’ve looked into some of the most common myths, misconceptions and old wives’ tales. Some are factual, some are false and some fall somewhere in between – prepare to be surprised!
1. Exercise myth: You need to walk 10,000 steps per day
How many steps a day do you need to take to start seeing the health benefits? New research has shown you may not need to aim as high as 10,000 steps a day. According to a 2019 study, walking benefits plateaus at around 7,500 steps a day. Still, getting in your daily steps is a habit you shouldn’t break.
2. Nutrition myth: Some foods, like apple cider vinegar, burn fat
Hyped-up ingredients will always rotate in and out of favour and it’s worth being sceptical towards anything that claims to be a miracle product. For example, apple cider vinegar has recently trended on the internet as a wellness product wonder. One of the more popular claims is that drinking apple cider vinegar in small doses, one to two tablespoons a day, burns fat. The reality is, there’s little compelling scientific evidence that apple cider vinegar burns fat – or that any food burns fat in the body. Take this as more of a general lesson on if it sounds too good to be true, it is.
3. Exercise myth: Evening exercise causes a bad night’s sleep
A good night’s rest is important for your mind and body, but can evening exercise mess with your sleep cycle? Depending on the type of exercise, squeezing in a session before bedtime shouldn’t interfere with you catching needed ZZZs. A 2018 Sports Medicine study reveals that evening exercise has a little negative effect and sometimes even improves sleep. Just make sure to avoid higher-intensity workout routines an hour before you go to bed. Choosing a yoga flow would serve you better than a high-calibre cycling routine before turning it in for the evening.
4. Nutrition myth: Unrefined sugars, like honey, are healthier than white sugar
Is swapping maple syrup, honey, or other unrefined options for white table sugar better overall? Whether refined or unrefined, there is little to no nutritional difference. The best way to control these added sugars, also called “free sugars,” is not by type, but by the proportion, you add to what you eat. According to the NHS, it’s recommended to limit free sugars to no more than 30g a day—about seven sugar cubes.
5. Exercise myth: Weightlifting makes you bulky
Pumping iron doesn’t just have to be about bulking up muscles. First off, building up muscle mass takes a long time and disciplined training. People who intend to sculpt out muscles follow a strict exercise and nutrition regimen that you won’t stumble into by adding weightlifting into your gym circuit. So don’t be afraid to step up to the bar! Strength training comes with great benefits including improving posture, better mobility, and strengthening muscles and joints to avoid injuries.
6. Nutrition myth: Eating gluten-free is always better for you
For people living with coeliac disease eating gluten doesn’t just cause discomfort, it causes intestinal damage over time. But according to Coeliac UK people with coeliac aren’t the only ones swearing off gluten – at least 10% of people in the UK choose to eat gluten-free. But unless you have a gluten intolerance, going gluten-free isn’t necessarily a health silver bullet.
When you avoid foods with gluten, like whole-wheat for example, you miss out on their nutritional benefits including fibre and protein. And just because a processed product has “gluten-free” on the label doesn’t necessarily make it healthier. Often other additives are included to make up for the missing gluten (i.e., more sugar and salt for flavour) that negates any supposed health benefits. Keep this in mind for how you approach nutrition, whether it’s for wellness or to fuel your next workout.
7. Exercise myth: You must exercise for thirty minutes for it to count
Sometimes you may not have time for an uninterrupted exercise session, but does that mean you’re missing out? According to the NHS, adults 19 to 64 should aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity per week. How you get to those goal times does have to fall strictly within the bounds of 30-minute fitness classes or time for a mile run. Fitness snacking, or doing short bursts of exercise throughout the day, for ten to fifteen minutes is just as valid. The trick is to use your bursts of activity wisely and kick up the intensity—like a quick run and heart-pumping HIIT circuit.
How many of these health myths did you believe were true? We hope we were able to help you sort exercise and nutrition facts from fiction. After all, providing fitness tips and the latest wellness information on our blog is just one way David Lloyd Clubs can support you on your exercise journey. See how our friendly fitness teams can support you at your local David Lloyd Club.