How much do you know about fitness? It's one of those things that's always around and we think we know a lot about, but when you look a little deeper you realize that much of hat we think we know may be myth or assumption. We’ve put together some interesting exercise facts that may surprise you.
Most people believe it's essential to stretch and warm-up before working out, but research shows that pre-workout stretching may not be beneficial at all. Studies show stretching before a run made runners' bodies less efficient. Those who stretched beforehand didn't perform as well and weren't able to run as far. Stretching is still important, but it's better to do your stretching post-run. To warm up, try walking or doing running-specific moves to warm up the joints before taking off.
Crunches have been a staple in the fitness world since—well, forever. But will they give you a flat tummy? Experts say no. One of the problems with crunches is that most people do them incorrectly. They also burn very few calories. Doing crunches as the exclusive way to tone your tummy will deliver minimal results. To really flatten the stomach, we need to combine a healthy diet with cardio in addition to doing core exercises like planks.
Exercise offers many incredible health benefits, but most people don't know how good it is for the brain. Not only do regular workouts improve alertness and mood, but they also improve mental performance. A study performed at the University of British Columbia found that regular cardio exercise boosts the size of the hippocampus. This is the section of the brain that's responsible for learning and memory—so maybe exercise can make us smarter, too.
Another fun fitness fact is that running makes you live longer. That doesn't mean spending hours and hours on the treadmill every week either. The research shows that even a little bit of running provides life-extending benefits. Runners, on average, live more than three years longer than non-runners. What's even better is that the benefits are the same, regardless of how long, how far, or how fast we run. An analysis of more than 232,000 found that those who ran less than one hour per week had the same mortality benefits as the people who ran over three hours per week. So let's all lace up and hit the track.
Did you know that a little music can improve your physical performance? It's true. The research shows some very interesting things when it comes to music and exercise. Studies have found that slow jams bring your heart rate back down, and they help the body to recover faster post-workout. Doctors say recovery with slow music was more rapid than with fast music or silence. Another study found that fast music can improve workout intensity, while slower music can help people return to their resting heart rate faster.
People who gain weight and can't seem to lose it could have their sleep to blame, or rather, the lack thereof. Studies have suggested that there's a strong connection between a lack of sleep and negative metabolism changes. Researchers compared people who slept four hours a night with those who slept 10 hours a night. They found the shorter sleepers had an increase in hunger and appetite. Another factor could be that the people who get too little sleep are more tired during the day and have less energy to be active. Fitness goes well beyond what we do in the gym, or even what we eat. And it's valuable to learn a little science to help us see to our fitness in a holistic and grounded way. So maybe it's time to run a little while listening to music, and remember to stretch, after.
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