Healthy Focus

Debunking Exercise Myths

If you feel like you’re swimming in a sea of trendy exercise programs, join the (virtual health) club. What began as simple aerobics classes years ago has evolved into Pilates, stepping, spinning and a host of other programs that seem to offer something for everyone.

But what do you really need to do, exercise-wise, to stay healthy at any age? Let’s take a look at the myths and the realities of the exercise world.

Myth #1: The Perfect Exercise Program

Most exercise pros agree that the wider variety of programs and classes available now is a good thing—as long as you’re realistic about what to expect.

Often, the problem people run into is the hype that there’s a program that can work magic with little effort. Experts say it’s not so much the programs themselves that are unrealistic, it’s the expectations that people are given about what the program can do for them.

In fact, any one class or program that claims to do it all should be looked at with some skepticism. But generally speaking, most popular exercise programs have some merit for many people. And as long as you’re getting a variety of exercise, including aerobic, strength and stretching activities, you should be gaining fitness and health benefits.

Myth #2: One Size Fits All

It goes without saying that you should always check with your physician before beginning an exercise program, because not everyone can–or should–do every form of exercise. If you haven’t exercised in a while, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor first before delving into high-impact exercises such as jogging or spin classes, which can be too intense.

Sometimes someone will try a class that they’re really not ready for, the most common mistake is doing too much, too soon. Water exercise classes, on the other hand, can offer beneficial workouts for just about everyone. Even if you’re older, have a bad back, are overweight, etc., you can still get a really good workout. Sometimes people are apprehensive about water exercise because they don’t want to wear a bathing suit, but most classes will let you go in in shorts and a T-shirt.

And most exercise programs can be modified to be safe for people with medical problems, so always tell the instructor beforehand about any special health conditions you have. 

Myth #3: Magical Machines

The experts are unanimous: Neither man nor machine can get rid of fat in only certain targeted areas. Any device that says if you do ab work you will get a thinner waistline, or that you will lose inches [off your waistline], it’s probably a sham, most experts agree.

You’re going to lose fat from wherever your body prefers to lose it from. For women, it will be harder to lose it in the breasts, buttocks and thighs. Certain exercises may tone some muscles underneath a targeted area so there are some shaping benefits, but you won’t lose weight only in that area because you’re doing a specific exercise, experts say.

And if you’re thinking that at least it would be easier to exercise via machine, think again. The elliptical trainer, for example, is an excellent machine, but it won’t burn any more calories than a brisk walk or a slow jog would for the same amount of effort. The magic is really what you do day after day, week after week, year after year.

Mark your calendar for the 21st of each month to learn about ways to make you and your health your number ONE priority in 2021. For more details, visit our Facebook or, or call our Find Line at (731) 644-3463.

Mental Health: Don’t Suffer Alone

Most of us see stress as unavoidable, as part of being an employee, parent, student; as part of being human. Stress plays an important role in keeping us aware of our surroundings and able to react to change. Your body is equipped to deal with normal amounts of stress; however, when you experience prolonged states of stress, it can have a negative impact on your mental and physical health. Studies have found that almost half of all adults suffer from stress-related health issues. Unrelieved stress can contribute to headaches, high blood pressure, fatigue, depression, chest pain, heart disease, obesity, and diabetes.

So relax! There are many activities and techniques that can help you manage your stress and keep it at a healthy level. Try some of these tips to help you de-stress wherever you are.

  • Walk it off: Taking a walk can help lower stress hormones by increasing your endorphins. Even walking for 10 minutes can help you shed stress. If you can, stroll through a park, as natural sunlight boosts your mood, and nature has been shown to help reduce stress and allow for relaxed reflection.
  • Take a deep breath: Deep breathing tricks your body into feeling like it is relaxed and increases your oxygen levels, helping you shed tension and stress.
  • Give yourself a break: Take some time away from your phone and computer. Research has shown that continuous computer usage has been linked to depression, loss of sleep, and high levels of stress in women. Give yourself several breaks from your computer during the day, and try to turn it off at least an hour before you go to bed. Unsurprisingly, studies have shown that cell phones (especially smart phones) increase stress as you feel pressured to answer every call, text, and email.
  • Don’t be so hard on yourself: Negative thoughts in reaction to a stressor can actually increase stress, but thinking positively can help calm you down and get you through each challenge. Instead of telling yourself that a task is impossible, try thinking that you will do the best you can or that you can get through it by taking the task one step at a time.
  • Grab a snack: Feeling hungry puts stress on the brain, so try taking a few minutes for a small, healthy snack – like nuts or a piece of fruit – to fill you up and help you de-stress without overeating.
  • Create a green space: Buying plants for your house or desk can help keep you calm. Research has shown that just being around plants can help lower blood pressure and help you relax. Many plants, like aloe, are also incredible air purifiers and can help filter many toxins from the air in your home or workplace.
  • Just stop and listen: Listening to music you love immediately boosts your dopamine levels, giving you an instant pick-me-up. Classical music is particularly relaxing; it has been proven to lessen stress hormone levels and lower blood pressure and heart rates.
  • Get creative: The repetitive motions involved in several crafts, like knitting and jewelry making, can be soothing and help you get rid of stress. Taking time for any creative activities you enjoy can help you relax and get your mind away from your stressors.

You can increase your resistance to stress by improving your physical health. Make an appointment with your healthcare provider to discuss your overall health and well-being. The better you feel, the more equipped you will be to handle life’s curveballs.

If you are suffering from stress, anxiety or depression, you don’t have to suffer alone, and treatment is available. Lake Haven Behavioral Health Center at Henry County Medical Center offers individualized care in a warm, caring atmosphere.

To make a referral or learn more about the psychiatric services and programs, call 731 644-8420 or 1-800-489-1203.