This Is the Biggest Myth Most People Believe About Fitness

When it comes to exercise, there are plenty of fibs you tell yourself — and they’re doing you a disservice. There’s a long laundry list of them, too — from myths about your cardio regimen to the falsehoods about the terrible foods you regularly eat. But lying to yourself about fitness can actually keep you from reaching your goals. What’s worse is that some fitness lies are so common, you might be telling yourself one of them without even realizing it. Here are seven common lies you need to stop telling yourself about fitness (watch out for No. 6!).

1. ‘This exercise machine is totally accurate’

man touching the screen of a treadmill

Behold the biggest liar of all — the calorie counter. | iStock.com

By now, there have been plenty of reports showing us the calorie counters on workout machines aren’t an exact science. In fact, Joe Stankowski, C.P.T., told Men’s Fitness that most machines “aren’t accurate for about 20% of the population.” This can be because your body doesn’t burn calories at a high rate when it’s accustomed to a workout, or because a person is gripping the sensors on the machine improperly.

But even with this knowledge, many people still look to that counter as a sign of whether they’re getting the most out of their workouts. If you are serious about wanting to track your efforts, Men’s Fitness says using a heart rate monitor is a better bet.

2. ‘I’m super sweaty, so I must be getting a great cardio workout’

Young women smiling in a exercise room

Lying about your cardio is nothing to smile at. | iStock.com/VladTeodor

The best way to know if you are getting the most out of your workout is to keep your regimen varied, which will keep your body constantly challenged. This method will help deliver the best results, regardless of how much you perspire.

3. ‘Exercise will counteract my garbage diet’

woman eating fruit cake

Not even the best fibber in the world can make an exercise plan erase the consequences of eating this decadent treat. | iStock.com

Telling yourself this lie gets you into all sorts of trouble. There’s a whole list of reasons why you can’t out-exercise a bad diet, but one of the biggest is that you’re taking in more calories than you’re burning. Plus, putting the wrong kinds of foods in your body is a surefire way to feel sluggish.

To get the most out of your workout, focus on filling up with carbohydrates before exercising and refueling with protein afterward. Keeping the rest of your meals in check will also help you reach your fitness goals.

4. ‘I cleaned the house — that counts as my workout today’

man lounging on the couch

Have you convinced yourself that your housework is a suitable workout? | iStock.com

As Live Science points out, housework and purposeful physical activity don’t exactly burn the same number of calories. “For instance, 30 minutes of vacuuming or sweeping floors burns about 130 calories, while 30 minutes of vigorous cycling on a stationary bike burns 400 calories,” the story explains. The ideal route? Combining just a couple of well-known exercises, like walking or jogging, with your housework to get a balanced amount of physical activity.

5. ‘Men and women can’t do the same exercises’

Female boxer with your male coach

Whoever told you that you can’t play with the boys wasn’t telling the truth. | iStock.com/targovcom

While men and women generally have different goals when it comes to working out, it’s positively archaic to think that men and women can’t have similar fitness regimens. (Just look at all the couples at the gym exercising together!) So, if you are a gal wanting to train like the guys, there are definitely exercises you can do. In fact, Shape has a long list of options, from deadlifts to cleans, that are torn right out of the male fitness handbook.

6. ‘I can totally work through this pain’

man clutching his knee injury

Retiring the “no pain, no gain” lie will do you some good. | iStock.com

The phrase “no pain, no gain” has been around for ages. However, it’s gravely inaccurate. While pushing through a bit of soreness or discomfort from a workout is normal, ignoring serious pain is bad news. “Any pain felt at the start of exercise should be a warning sign that something is wrong,” Verywell says. “If you have pain on one side of the body, if you have pain in a joint, or have a limited range of motion, you need to back off or stop that activity.” No matter how badly you want to get that workout in, pushing through pain can lead to long-term injury. And then you really won’t be able to exercise.

7. ‘I’m going to see results after one workout session’

young healthy girl on home scales

The number on the scale isn’t the one lying here. | iStock.com/nensuria

We have been told time and again that we won’t reach our fitness goals overnight. Yet, for some reason, we still lie to ourselves about the ability to see results after just one new exercise class or a single session with a personal trainer. (This is why trainers make you buy several sessions at a time. You aren’t going to meet your goals after just one.) Be honest with yourself about how much time you’re going to put in to reaching your goals, and don’t get discouraged when you haven’t dropped a pant size after just one go-round with your new fitness routine.