UAlberta physiotherapist debunks common exercise myths

Glen Sather Clinic's Brad Green corrects common misconceptions around living a healthy, active lifestyle

Rehab Med Communications, with files from Brad Green - 27 January 2020

A successful exercise plan needs to be informed, sustainable and attainable. But with so much misinformation plaguing the fitness world, what does that even mean?

Brad Green, physiotherapist at the University of Alberta's Glen Sather Sports Medicine Clinic has put together a list of common exercise myths-and how you can avoid them.


Myth #1: I should exercise every day

Rest days are extremely important for proper strength training and help prevent overuse injuries. Intelligent design of your training routine (including planned rest days) is essential to promoting success and maximizing your results.

Myth #2: It only takes a few weeks to build strength and muscle mass

Typically, it takes two to three months of a dedicated exercise program to become stronger and start noticing physical changes. Some improvements happen in the first three weeks due to increased muscle memory and improved coordination; however, long-term exercise routines focused on strength adaptations are required to see significant changes. Don't give up on your exercise routine if you don't see those improvements right away! Be patient, train properly and the rest will follow.

Myth #3: If I do crunches, I will lose belly fat

The idea of "spot reduction," where we think we can decrease body fat in a specific area through particular exercises, has been disproved by research. A full-body strength and cardiovascular program can help you lose weight all over your body.

Myth #4: I only need to exercise to lose weight

Diet and healthy lifestyle habits are the most important factors in sustainable weight loss. Exercise plays an important role, but overall lifestyle and eating habits are far more important.

Myth #5: There is an optimal time of day to exercise

There is no magical time of day that's better than another. The optimal time to exercise is simply the time that fits into your schedule and allows you to maintain a regular routine.

Myth #6: Physiotherapists cannot help with strength training and program development

Physiotherapists have a wide base of strengthening and conditioning knowledge and are more than capable of getting you started on a strengthening program. They can help with strength and conditioning program development, including: exercise prescription and modification, program design (i.e. periodization to modify training variables to build success and reduce the likelihood of plateauing or injury) and specific exercises to help rehabilitate or prevent injury.

Myth #7: You can only get stronger if you lift heavy weights and go to the gym

While increasing the demand on your muscles is required to continue to increase your strength, there are many exercises that can be done with minimal to no exercise equipment that can promote a significant increase in your strength and help with your activities and hobbies.


From a physiotherapist perspective, Green notes that if you're planning on starting a strength or regular exercise program, the best thing you can do is to develop a sustainable schedule.

"Quite often, individuals attempt to change too many factors at the same time. This can make it very difficult to achieve individual fitness goals and create a lasting change in your routine. If you attempt to do too much too quickly after doing too little for too long, you could end up injuring yourself or losing interest in your new routine."

Discussing your fitness goals with a professional who has strength and conditioning experience and expertise in program periodization and design can be a great resource for helping build success in your new exercise routine. Our Glen Sather Clinic physiotherapists can determine where your current work capacity is at and how to design an individualized program to decrease your risk of injury and help you achieve your goals.

For more information about Glen Sather Clinic physiotherapy services, visit the website.