Feeling pressure to make sure your fitness tracker breaks the sacred mark of 10,000 steps a day?
Well, you can stop marching in place and trying to form numbers.
A study by the Lodz Medical University in Poland and the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in the US found that 10,000 is not the magic number we were told.
The researchers found that 4,000 steps was enough to maintain health and reduce the risk of premature death.
While just over 2,300 would strengthen your heart and blood vessels,
Which got us thinking: What other health myths do we believe to be fact? Ella Walker reveals everything.
A SIX PACK INDICATES MAXIMUM HEALTH – WRONG
Unfortunately, a SUPER tight waist and rock-hard abs don’t guarantee perfect health.
Lucy says, “If you work hard enough, get rid of the fat that’s on top of your muscles, and build those abs, you can get a six pack abs.
But that could have been achieved by restricting your diet – which is not healthy – and only working your abs and ignoring all other exercise, which is not healthy.”
The key is to exercise overall and not skip meals.
YOUR FIVE A DAY IS IMPORTANT – TRUE
THIS is non-negotiable, and if you can hit more than five, all the better.
Nutritionist Louise Pyne says, “To keep your body healthy, it’s important to eat five times a day.
“Brightly colored fruits and vegetables provide your body with the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants it needs to keep each of your body systems functioning efficiently.”
LOSE WEIGHT BY APPLYING AREAS – WRONG
If it just could be that easy. Personal trainer Lucy Gornall says, “You can target areas that you want to strengthen, but it’s not that easy when it comes to losing weight.”
“While weight easily falls off our legs and arms, the abdominal area could be the last place we lose weight.”
She adds that genetics can also play a role.
DRINK 6-8 GLASSES OF WATER A DAY – TRUE
Pyne confirms the health tip, saying: “To stay hydrated, it’s important to drink six to eight glasses of water.
“Adequate water intake helps counteract fatigue and poor concentration, and remember that hunger is often confused with thirst.”
She adds, “You can also add cucumber slices, lemon, and mint to plain water to naturally invigorate it.”
ONLY USE SUN CREAM IN SUMMER – WRONG
SOME people think that in the UK you don’t need to protect your skin from the sun in the summer, let alone in the winter.
But everyone, regardless of skin tone or color, should wear sunscreen with at least SPF 30 and a four-star UVA rating every day.
Not only does it reduce the risk of skin cancer, but, according to Dr. Rachel Ward: “It makes you look youthful.”
Exercise 150 minutes every week – that’s right
ABSOLUTELY – that should be the minimum.
Gornall says: “Exercise has been proven to have so many benefits and you don’t have to exert yourself in the gym.
“Walking is a great, calming, low-impact exercise. When we have time to scroll Instagram, we also have time to do some exercise!
“There is simply no excuse for not exercising at least 150 minutes a week – as recommended by the NHS.”
Eight hours of sleep – true
DAS is right for “healthy adults” according to the NHS, which advises you get six to eight hours of sleep a night.
However, sleep quotas can be different for different age groups. For example, babies, toddlers and teenagers need more rest, but it’s normal for new parents to get by with very little (even if it doesn’t feel like it), and over-65s often need a little less too.
YOU SHOULD COUNT CALORIES – WRONG
WOMEN should aim to consume 2,000 calories per day, men 2,500. However, constant calorie intake is not advisable.
Pyne says, “Counting calories can help with weight loss, but it’s not always the best path to long-term health.
“It’s better to eat a whole foods diet rich in complex carbohydrates, protein, good fats, and fruits and vegetables than opting for low-calorie products loaded with additives like diet sodas or low-calorie ready meals.”
SUGAR-FREE IS BETTER FOR YOU – WRONG
IT may seem counterintuitive, but no, it’s not always like that. This is due to the way sugar is replaced.
Pyne says, “Sugar-free and low-fat foods are often replaced with sweeteners and preservatives, so it’s usually better to go for full-fat options.” For example, if you’re opting for a yogurt, opt for a full-fat Greek version and add in to sweeten add fresh fruit.”
DEPRESSION MAKES YOU WEAK – WRONG
Rosie Weatherley, informational content manager at mental health charity Mind, debunks the myth, saying: “Living with a mental health issue such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder or PTSD is often a very distressing experience.
“It can be a sign of strength to seek support for yourself or to be open and honest about what you’re going through in life.”