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Top Ten Health Myths
by Stacy Popke / September 1, 2008

Myth 1: The key to ripped abs is an endless number of crunches per day.

The Real Deal: Abdominal muscles are like any other muscle. If a layer of flab is covering them, the definition is not going to show through óno matter how many crunches you perform on a daily basis. Eating a healthy diet with moderate calories and sticking with a rep range of 8-15 when doing ab work is a safe bet to achieving the definition in your abs.

Myth 2: Breast cancer should be the most pressing concern to women today.

The Real Deal: The facts are that heart disease and stroke claim more than eighteen times the number of lives in women than breast cancer does.

Myth 3: To build muscle mass, super size your daily protein intake.

The Real Deal: According to the Essentials of Exercise Physiology textbook, only a small amount of protein is used during weight training. The body needs 5 percent of its protein stores to fuel one workout. With 60 percent being the average, the majority of a workout session uses fats as energy.

Myth 4: At least eight glasses of water need to be consumed on a daily basis.

The Real Deal: The eight-glasses-a-day recommendation comes from a 1940s National Research Council article. What is often left out, though, is the articleís other point of how the foods we eat contain a large portion of that daily recommendation.

Myth 5: Reading in dim light is a source of permanent eye damage.

The Real Deal: Researchers have not found any evidence that reading in dim light damages eyesight. The eyes do become strained because of the dim light, but this irritation is only temporary.

Myth 6: Turkey contains tryptophan, which causes drowsiness.

The Real Deal: Scientific research has shown that turkey can cause sleepiness. It appears, however, that tryptophan is not the culprit. Other meats, as well as certain cheeses, contain just as much (or sometimes more) tryptophan as turkey. And when is the last time you heard someone complain that the Swiss cheese made them sleepy? My bet is that people are getting drowsy because of the overall big dinner (think: Thanksgiving feast), and not from the turkey itself.

Myth 7: Food is more fattening when eaten late at night.

The Real Deal: Eating past a certain hour in the evening is not going to cause instant thunder thighs. Just because you wonít be partaking in enough physical activity afterward to burn off the calories doesnít mean the food will be stored as fat. A study at the Dunn Nutrition Centre in Cambridge revealed that itís the entire dayís worth of calories that matter, and not just what was eaten in the nighttime.

Myth 8: Exercising less than 30 minutes offers no health benefits.

The Real Deal: Any amount of exercise is better than nothing. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services may recommend 30-60 minutes of exercise most days of the week, but that isnít the green light for you to quit your 10-minute quickies. Ten minutes of exercise still burns calories. In the long run, these short exercise sessions can add up to quite a few pounds of fat loss.

Myth 9: Running burns more calories than walking.

The Real Deal: Whether you walk one mile or run one mile, youíre still burning the same 100 calories for either activity. The only edge here is that running one mile usually takes less time than walking one mile. If you have the stamina, you could fit in more miles of running than you would when walking for the same amount of time.

Myth 10: Using a tanning bed is safer tanning outside.

The Real Deal: Sorry, but either way, ultraviolet radiation is poisoning your skin. Both methods of getting a golden tan will increase your risk of skin cancer and wrinkled skin. Doctors have noticed an increase of malignant melanoma, which is the most severe type of skin cancer, in recent years. Itís all the more reason to limit your tanning and sun exposure.

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