Summer Exercise Myths
After a long winter, there’s nothing like getting outside to enjoy your favorite activities. For millions, that means getting more exercise. But before you grab your running shoes, hop on your bike, or even head into the garden, here are three common myths you should know…
Myth #1: Always stretch before exercise. For decades, athletes were told to stretch their muscles before a workout to prevent injury. Then, a few years ago, the common advice became to avoid stretching… for the same reason.
The truth is, there’s very little research to back up either point. But a new study has turned them both on their heads.
Should you stretch before you work out? According to a large new study led by Daniel Pereles, MD, the answer is “it depends.”
Pereles’ team assigned 2,729 athletes either to stretch before their workouts or to avoid stretching. In the end, stretching only made a difference for one group of people. Those who were in the habit of stretching – but assigned to the “do not stretch” group – were more likely to be injured than any other group.1
In all, they found only 3 causes of increased injury risk:
- No longer stretching before exercise if you’d been in the habit of stretching
- Higher body mass index (BMI)
- Having a chronic or recent injury
So, if you’re in the habit of stretching before exercise, you should probably continue. Otherwise, there doesn’t appear to be a benefit, as far as injury goes.
Of course, you’re out there in the first place because the weather’s beautiful. Which brings us to our next myth.
Myth #2: You’re okay in the heat, as long as you don’t “work out.” You probably know that running a marathon in 90-degree heat is a bad idea. But a lot of people overlook the dangers of “safer” activities.
According to a report from the Worldwide Children’s Hospital, about 1 of every 5 heat-related injuries is caused by everyday activities. In fact, yard work is one of the biggest culprits – causing 11% of heat-related ER visits.2
Most TV stories focus on high school or college football players suffering from the heat. But it’s not just football players who should be careful. Among adults, a “relaxing” round of golf is one of the top causes of heat injury. Even if you’re using a golf cart, you could be at risk.
So be careful in the heat – no matter what you’re doing. Even puttering in the garden could land you in the ER.
Staying hydrated won’t keep you out of trouble, either.
Myth #3: Drinking plenty of water will help you stay cool. Water prevents dehydration… but it doesn’t protect you from becoming overheated. British scientists proved this with a unique study.
The night before a marathon, the researchers had a group of runners swallow tiny sensors. These sensors kept track of the runners’ body temperatures throughout the race. And the results were something of a shock.
The runners’ body temperatures showed no relation to how much water they drank. In fact, the runner who replaced the most water – 73% of what he sweated out – also developed the highest body temperature of the group. His temperature topped out at an extremely dangerous 107 degrees!3
You should drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration… but be aware it won’t keep your body temperature down.
These are some of the summer exercise myths you should be aware of. In a future article, I’ll tell you a few secrets on how to get the most benefit from your workouts.
Dr Kenneth Woliner, M.D.
Best Life Herbals
1 Pereles D and Thompson D. The impact of a pre-run stretch on the risk of injury in runners.
AAOS, 011 Annual Meeting Paper Presentations. Sports Medicine/Arthroscopy 6: Leg, Ankle, and Arthroscopy, Podium No: 648, Friday, February 18, 2011.
2 See http://injuryresearch.net/resources/1/PressReleases/ExertionalHeatRelatedInjuriesPressRelease12.07.10.pdf
3 See http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/04/070421202623.htm.