5 Health And Fitness Facts... Or Fiction?

These days everyone is full of health and fitness facts and advice; well-meaning friends, work colleagues, our parents, and the internet has a lot to answer for. Although this advice is often really useful and always meant with the best of intentions, sometimes it can also be a little wide of the mark. Find out if the top 5 health and fitness facts are really what they seem...

1. Lifting weights makes women bulk up.

It takes months, if not years, of lifting increasingly heavy weights in order to achieve a body Arnold Schwarzenegger would be proud of.  Due to the larger amount of testosterone required to develop large bulky muscles it is physiologically impossible for most females to build this kind of muscle without the use of artificial hormones to help things along. Using weights or resistance training as part of your workout will actually help to shape and strengthen your muscles, as well making you look slimmer and increasing your resting metabolism.

2. Muscle weighs more than fat.

A pound of muscle weighs the same as a pound of fat. Obvious really when you think about it.  However, muscle is much more dense than fat, and therefore takes up less space in your body. If you really want to see how they compare side by side - and you're not too squeamish - try a Google image search for muscle vs fat.

3. Cracking your knuckles causes arthritis.

How many times have you heard or even said this yourself? It's probably one of the most common of the health and fitness myths. Whilst it may not be the most pleasant thing to do in the company of others, it certainly won’t cause arthritis. The cracking sound is actually a build-up of gases escaping from the synovial fluid within the joint. We're still not advocating it though!

4. You must drink 8 glasses of water a day.

Advice on this conflicts on what seems like a daily basis. Dr Margaret McCartney, a GP from Glasgow, wrote a piece for the British Medical Journal that most doctors already know that there is no scientific evidence that we all need so much water (as reported by the Guardian in July 2011). Our bodies are unique and designed to let us know when we need to drink more water simply by making us feel thirsty. There is no medical evidence to support the 8 glass rule; it is dependent on how active we are and how much food we’ve eaten - so you might need more or less. The sensible message is to listen to what our bodies tell us.

5. Sit-ups will make your stomach flat.

Sorry! The truth is the only way to get rid of stomach fat is to expend more calories than you take in. When we start an exercise regime we don’t have much control over which areas the fat comes off first. Doing a few sit ups is not going to expend lots of calories but they are good for improving muscle strength. Running on a treadmill for 30 minutes or 20 minutes on a cross trainer at high resistance will be far more effective for tackling this problem area.