Don’t Believe the Fitness Myths

Feb 19, 2024 | Patients

by Brent Hearn • 

For most (read: pretty much all) of our posts, we like to delve into a topic that we find relevant to your health, citing a variable number of sources along the way. In this post, however, we’re going to veer into new territory and unpack some key points from a single article. Why? Well, because it’s chock-full of fitness info that can have an outsized impact on your daily exercise regimen and long-term fitness goals.

The Article

In a January 2024 article in The New York Times entitled  8 Fitness Myths That Drive Experts Crazy, writer Danielle Friedman takes the hammer to some long-held beliefs about fitness. We’ll be examining just a few of them briefly, but we highly recommend reading the article in its entirety; it’s a short, easy read, and it’s quite enlightening. 

There’s another upside too: Since we’ll be setting the record straight on some commonly held misconceptions, you can “well, actually…” your way under the nerves of anyone who dares to air one of said misconceptions as fact! Who doesn’t enjoy correcting their friends, family, and coworkers?! 

With the preamble out of the way, let’s get to it! We’ll start with a hard truth, namely that…

Walking is not enough to keep you fit.

To start with, we’re not saying you shouldn’t walk (and neither is The New York Times). Far from it. Walking has a host of documented positive benefits for your brain, your heart, your sleep habits, your mood, and…you get the picture. A whole bevy o’ benefits. 

That said, beginning in your 30s, you begin to progressively lose muscle mass. If you want to maintain a strong body (vital for independence as you move into your later years), you’ll need to work some strength training into your fitness regimen. 

Not to worry, though. You don’t have to commit yourself to some kind of extreme powerlifting routine to build muscle because…

You don’t have to lift heavy weights to build muscle.

Sure, you can if you want. But if you prefer to do more reps of lighter weights, that’s okay, too. Both build muscle, so it’s a matter of preference. 

So you’ve got it down now, right? You can walk, but you can’t treat walking as a magic fitness bullet; you’ll need to do some resistance training too. It could be worse, right? At least you’re not a runner. Those poor suckers! Don’t they know running will wreck their knees? It’s good to know that some of your long-held fitness beliefs still hold true, right? Well, actually…

Running doesn’t destroy your knees.

What?! How can this be?! If you’re an avid runner, this is great news. But if the belief that running is a joint wrecker has been your excuse not to run, now you’ll have to come up with another one. Or, you know…actually start running. Just make sure not to do too much too fast. Overly aggressive training is one thing that can cause knee issues. 

Okay, so now you’ve got it, right? You’ve decided you’re going to bite the bullet and mix in some running with your walking. Hey, maybe this isn’t so bad, you think. Since I’m now a runner, I can limit my strength training to upper body since my legs are getting such a workout! 

By now, you should know what’s coming. Not so fast, because…

Runners and cyclists still need to strength-train their lower body

Yes, running makes your lower body stronger (as does cycling), but not enough for significant muscle growth. So you’’ll still need to make friends—or, at the very least, uneasy allies—with squats, lunges, and the like.

The Takeaway

Don’t assume you know something to be true just because you’ve always heard it’s true. Oh, and again, we highly recommend reading the whole article. It debunks some other fitness myths that you might be holding onto. (Never waste a chance to arm yourself with extra ammunition with which to correct your loved ones!)


The New York Times: 8 Fitness Myths That Drive Experts Crazy