Myth: Weight lifting is only for people who want to “bulk up”
The truth: The Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines recommend that adults lift weights at least two days a week. Resistance training or weight lifting does not always result in “bulking up.” It will increase lean muscle mass, bone density and decrease body fat, which increases strength and endurance, improves balance and posture, and increases metabolism, which promotes healthy weight management (WHO, 2016).
Myth: No pain, no gain
The truth: The idea of no pain, no gain, originally made popular in the early 1980s, suggests that in order to see results you must perform hard and painful exercise. Thirty years later, we know this is not true. Exercising at a moderate to vigorous intensity has many health benefits such as reducing your risk for heart disease and diabetes. But exercising to the point of pain is your body’s way of telling you that something is wrong. It is normal to experience some soreness when you are just starting an exercise routine, but once your body gets used to it, exercise should not be painful. A good way to figure out if you are working hard enough, but not too hard, is to use the “Talk Test.” When performing cardiovascular exercises like walking, dancing or cross-country skiing – you should be able to talk, but not sing (WHO, 2016).
Myth: Exercise takes too much time
The truth: It doesn’t have to. Physical activity can fit into your day 10 minutes at a time. Make the most of coffee and lunch breaks by being active. A 10-minute brisk walk to a meeting, getting off the bus a few stops early or fitting in a 30-minute exercise class over your lunch break can all add up – helping you to meet Canada’s Physical Activity Guidelines of 150 minutes a week (WHO, 2016).
Myth: 600 sit-ups will give me a flat stomach
The truth: Performing exercises focused on a problem area is known as “spot toning” and unfortunately doesn’t work. Strengthening your abs by doing sit-ups is only one of many factors that will impact whether you have a flat stomach or not. Some factors are within your control, such as physical activity and healthy eating, while genetics, for example, are, unfortunately, out of your control (WHO, 2016).
Bottom line: By combining a full body exercise plan that includes cardiovascular and strength activities with healthy eating habits, you will start to see and feel all the physical, mental and emotional health benefits physical activity has to offer, which may include a flatter stomach.
Myth: I don’t need to lose weight so I don’t need to be physically active
The truth: Physical activity has benefits for everyone, regardless of your shape or size. A full-body workout that includes all of the major muscle groups, cardiovascular activity and flexibility will help you manage stress, give you more energy and improve blood pressure and cholesterol. Improvements to your overall health are likely to happen before you notice any significant changes to your physical appearance. Everyone can benefit from being physically active. Some of the biggest benefits, such as reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes or osteoarthritis, will not be reflected on a scale (WHO, 2016).
World Health Organization. (2016). Myths about Physical Activity. Retrieved from