6 Myths About Working Out That'll Sabotage Your Progress If You Buy Into Them
When you think about all the information out there about what kind of exercise is "best," how much you "should" do it, what it "should" look like, or what is "most" beneficial, it can start to get really overwhelming. So much so, in fact, that it can start to feel borderline pointless to even try to navigate it all. To put it simply, though, there are a lot of myths about working out that might just be keeping you from getting your sweat on.
The constant stream of all that information — whether it be fitness influencers giving you "advice" on Instagram, or something an instructor yelled out during your kickboxing class that felt body shame-y — can have a negative impact on how you create your own relationship with exercise, and cause very real anxiety about intentionally moving your body.
I know for me, when I'm focusing on other people's ideas or reasons for working out, I lose sight of why I do it, which inevitably makes the whole experience less enjoyable. For me, exercise is simply about taking care of my body and mind, listening to it, and (hopefully) having a good time in the process.
So if you've heard some ideas, beliefs, or "rules" about exercise that make you feel dread, shame, discouragement, or exclusion instead of feeling more empowered, you can go ahead and flip those ideas the bird.
Movement — which is all physical exercise really is — is for every body. Here are a few myths that are too ridiculous to buy into when it comes to working out.
1. There's A Way It's "Supposed" To Look
There are a lot of images out there that represent what working out "should look like."
Forget literally all of that. There is no cut-and-dry way that exercise is "supposed" to look. Regardless of what your body looks like, or what level of ability you're at, if you're exercising and cultivating a relationship with your own body, that's how it's supposed to look.
And believe me, I look more like a sweaty goblin than a human when I exercise, and it often takes me a really long time, for example, to learn sequences in classes, run consistently for stretches of time, or figure out the shapes of yoga poses on my body. That's all totally fine! It's about moving at your own pace in a way that feels good for you and only you.
2. You Have To Go Hard
While there can be psychological benefits to all kinds of exercise, there's also evidence to support the idea that being really strict around the type of exercise you do, and making it consistently high-impact, can actually stress you out more.
Five spin classes a week or doing HIIT on the reg might not actually be the best thing for your body. You might be a walker, or a dancer, or maybe you're into something like karate or rock climbing.
3. You Can Erase Your Progress
Say you were finally able to jog for 10 minutes straight, and then you skipped the routine you'd been building on and came back down to five minutes. First of all, don't beat yourself up, because this is more than completely OK. Chances are, you'll be able to get back to 10 minutes again, and you know that because you've done it before.
Don't let the idea of never skipping workouts, falling into a slump, or trying something once or twice then not going back, give you the idea that you've "erased" what you have done or somehow fallen short.
Every time you've exercised in the past, you've gotten to know your body, you've spent time with the intention of doing something positive for it, and you probably know a little bit more about what does and doesn't feel good for you. That knowledge doesn't just disappear.
And remember, things like taking a break during a workout you normally have the stamina to power through, or getting back up after you've collapsed in front of 20 people because you tripped on your own foot while dancing (aka my life) — that's all progress, and it's all part of the process.
4. You Have To Exercise A Certain Amount For It To Be "Worth It"
Your exercise journey is just that: your exercise journey. Some research suggests that doing about 30 minutes a day (or five times a week) of moderate exercise is the strategy you need to see the most health benefits. But remember, that can include more "simple" forms of movement like walking and stretching, and there's no shame at all in working up to being able to do more over time.
No matter what anyone else tries to tell you, trying out a tai chi class or taking that brisk walk around the block is totally "worth it." We all have different ways of moving that make us feel good, and that variety is part of the spice of life, no?
5. You Should Already Have A Routine
Maybe you've never in your life had any kind of real routine. No problem! If you want to start, there are so many ways you can do it, from looking on YouTube, to taking a class, or just getting on a mat and stretching to figure out what feels good for your body.
6. Working Out Is A "Waste of Time"
Now, I'm a writer, which means I spend a lot of time in my own head, intellectualizing things (specifically, things that often don't need to be intellectualized). I can easily convince myself that I don't have time to spare for exercise, because I need to be doing work, or at least going out with friends to get out of my head for once.
But the thing is, and maybe it's the dancer in me, but moving just simply makes me happier. There's no way to think myself out of that one.