...walk a mile

From The Cooper Institute and Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas

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Woman and Man working out with dumbells
Written by June 21, 2012

Gina Cortese-Shipley, MS

Associate Director of Education
The Cooper Institute

eating myths
exercise myths
fitness myths
nutrition myths
weight loss
weight loss myths
Debunking Weight Loss Myths Continued

Last week we cleared up some common misconceptions concerning weight loss. So this week we thought we would discuss a few more. Again, read them over and decide if you think they are fact or fiction and then look below for the answers.

  1. You will burn more fat if you exercise on an empty stomach.
  2. The best time of day to exercise is in the morning.
  3. Using light hand or ankle weights can increase the exercise benefit.
  4. Running 3 miles burns more calories than walking 3 miles.
  5. Exercise so you can eat what you want.

You will burn more fat if you exercise on an empty stomach.

Fact and Fiction:  While exercising on an empty stomach burns slightly more fat, fewer total calories typically are burned because low blood sugar and fatigue tend to result in shorter and/or less intense workouts and a larger total amount of calories burned is what is important. Thus, exercising after a small snack is probably ideal for most.

The best time of day to exercise is in the morning.

Fiction: There is no evidence that calories are burned differently at certain times of the day. The best time of day is the time that makes your exercise a consistent part of your life. We all have different commitments and different likes so there is no “one” good time. Find what works best for you. Try working out different times of the day for a few weeks and then determine which you enjoy the most, which makes you feel best afterwards, and which allows you to get it in and get in consistently and with the least amount of effort.

Using light hand or ankle weights can increase the exercise benefit.

Fiction: Carrying light hand weights or strapping on ankle weights when you exercise can increase risk for injury. The momentum that weights generate during cardiovascular activities can stress the body and lead to joint and muscle problems. Additionally, carrying weights tends to slow you down so you get less benefit from the exercise. And they don’t add enough weight to give the benefits of strength training. It is more beneficial to do a strength training session at a separate time when the focus can be on improving your strength.

Running 3 miles burns more calories than walking 3 miles.

Fact and Fiction: It is not uncommon to hear that the only way to burn a significant amount of calories and lose weight is to run but this is untrue. For many running is not enjoyable or appropriate given their fitness level or injury history. Let’s look at this example. A 200 pound man running at an 8-minute-mile pace burns about 20 calorie per minute. In the 24 minutes it takes him to run 3 miles, he would burn 480 calories. This same man walking at a 20-minute-mile pace, would burn 7.5 calories per minute. In the 60 minutes it would take him to walk 3 miles, he would burn 450 calories. So as you can see the total distance (or total work) is what is important. Both running and walking burn about the same number of calories, walking just takes more time. Yes the upside of running is you can burn those calories faster (in less time) but if this is not the best choice for you, there are plenty of other cardiovascular options.

Exercise so you can eat what you want.

Fiction: There are two sides to creating an energy deficit as we have discussed—energy in (what we eat) and energy out (exercise, activities of daily living, body functions, etc.). Many think that by exercising they can continue to eat whatever they want but this is—you guessed it—not true. Those who have successfully lost weight and kept it off have made changes to both sides of the equation. Consider this; a person who weighs 170 pounds burns about 100 calories by walking or running one mile—the number of calories in one apple. So in order to maintain a healthy weight or lose weight it truly is necessary to not only exercise but also be mindful of the food you are consuming. And of course it is also important to be mindful of what we put in our bodies in terms of our health and functionality as well.

In the quest to lose weight many are looking for that “magic formula” or want to make temporary changes expecting permanent results. There is no magic formula. The key is to engage in healthier behaviors (exercise, eat right, manage stress) for life!

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