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Lose the lies, be healthy

Have exercise misconceptions prevented you from starting an exercise program? Clear up any confusion and let these exercise tips from the Sport Science Department at Stellenbosch University improve your workout routine.

I will burn more fat if I exercise longer at a lower intensity

So you’ve heard about the “fat burning zone”. In other words, if you want to lose weight, you need to exercise at a low intensity (a low heart rate). What few people realise is that you actually burn the highest proportion of fat while at rest (around 70% of your energy comes from fat) and by now we know that being a couch potato doesn’t make you thin.

The most important focus in exercise and fat weight control is not the percentage of energy coming from fat during exercise, but the total energy cost of exercise, or how many calories are burned during the activity. The faster you walk, step or run, for example, the more calories you use per minute. Therefore at low exercise intensity, you need to exercise for a very long time (far more than an hour per day) to match the total energy expenditure of a high intensity workout.

I can get my dream body if I just train hard enough

Both weight gain and loss are impacted by many factors, including dietary intake, your environment and genetics. All individuals will not lose the same amount of weight on the same exercise program. Some individuals will actually respond very little to a regular exercise regimen in terms of losing fat weight (these individuals are called non-responders. Losing body fat is a complicated matter (if not, we wouldn’t have rising obesity rates), and it goes far beyond a regular training programme. Regular physical activity is one of the most important factors for successful long-term weight management.

I’m way too old for this

Age is a very bad excuse. Studies have shown that it is never too late to start working out you can reap benefits at any age. Exercise can help reduce the risk of bone and muscle diseases (in fact most ailments) and help enhance daily functionality even later in life.

This means you will be more independent even as you get older, not to mention being admired by your grandchildren for completing the odd fun walk/run every now and then.

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