Everywhere you turn, there are infomercials, magazines, websites and programs that talk about exercise. with the contradicting advice frequently given out, it's not hard to get confused about what to believe and what not to believe. In fact, it's quite easy to absorb the wrong advice and go on believing the wrong thing for years.  If you plan to start living a healthier lifestyle and to start exercising, it's important to distinguish myths from reality. Here are some common misconceptions about exercise and some truths that you may not be aware of.

Strength training will make women bulk up

This is not true since women don't have the testosterone and the muscle build up that will cause them to bulk up even if they undertake strength training on a regular basis. Bodybuilding is actually beneficial for women since it helps them build up muscle mass. Loss of muscle puts women at a greater risk of suffering from disability as they grow older.

Crunches will help you get flat abs

Even though a lot of people do these abdominal exercises with the intention of flattening their abs, this is not the best way to flatten your midsection. You won't get rid of fat around your mid section since you won't lose a lot of calories by doing crunches.  A more effective exercise would be to do planks or bridges since these exercises engage more of your core and help you burn more calories. So there's no need for hundreds of crunches.

Stretching after exercising will help your body recover faster

While stretching after exercise might make you feel good, it really does not affect your post workout recovery.  It does not change the level of lactic acid in your blood nor does it reduce muscle soreness or fasten the repair of muscle tissue after an intense workout. What it can help you with though is to make your joints more flexible if you stretch out immediately after your workout while your body is still warm. That means that it doesn't really matter whether you stretch before or after your workout or not, since it doesn't make any big difference.

You don't need to work out for long periods of time to get a health benefit

Short bursts of exercises that last for a short time, let's say like a minute or 10 minutes, can be just as effective as longer workouts sessions that last for 45 minutes to an hour. You can split your exercise sessions into shorter sessions throughout the day instead of tackling all your workout sessions at once. Going to the store? Run from your car to store entrance. On hold with the cable company, waiting for customer service? Jump! See how many jumps you get in before they get on the line. Just a few minutes here and there can make a huge difference.

The more exercise you do, the better

Nothing could be further from the truth. You need to give your body ample time to recover from intense exercises to increase your energy levels. Instead of going to the gym every day, take breaks in between your training program. You can rest for a day or two to help your muscles rebound. If you exercise every day, you can end up overtraining and injuring yourself.

Last but Not Least - Get adequate sleep

According to a study carried out by the American Journal of Epidemiology, women who slept for fewer hours were more likely to gain weight than those who got adequate sleep. The hormone ghrelin is produced as a result of sleep deprivation. This hormone is known to increase hunger, which just leads to eating more calories that probably won't get burned off.

If you want to know more truths about exercise, you can watch this fascinating new documentary on the truth about exercise.

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