Top 8 exercise myths busted


2 minutes

02 April 2024

When it comes to exercise, it can be hard to separate fact from fiction.

Is it really best to exercise in the morning? Is running bad for my knees? If I’m a woman, will engaging in resistance training make me bulk-up?

We chatted to Managing Executive and Physiotherapist at HBF Physio Baldivis, Jordan Duncan, to debunk common exercise myths to help you make informed decisions about your physical health.

Myth 1: The best time to exercise is in the morning

False. Well, mostly. Hear us out – while morning workouts have been shown to provide benefits like increased metabolism1 and better quality sleep2, what’s really important when it comes to exercise is doing it in the first place!

As Duncan puts it, “Any exercise is better than none, and by finding the time for physical activity everyday you’ll enjoy a range of health benefits.” (We’ll get into those benefits later.)

For a more in-depth look into the ways exercise can improve your health, check out our blog on the subject.

Myth 2: Running is bad for your knees

False. Contrary to popular belief, running is not inherently harmful to your knees. In fact, numerous studies have shown that regular running can strengthen the muscles around the knee joint and improve overall joint health3.

While it's true that some individuals may experience knee pain or injury from running, this is often due to factors such as improper footwear, overtraining, or underlying biomechanical issues, rather than the activity itself3. Additionally, proper warm-up, stretching, and gradually increasing mileage can help mitigate the risk of knee-related issues4.

Myth 3: Cardio is the only way to lose weight

False. While cardio contributes to weight loss by burning calories, combining it with strength training, also known as resistance training, yields better results5. Building muscle increases metabolism (the process where your body converts what you eat and drink into energy) by helping to jump start the fat burning process6, aiding in long-term weight management.

Limiting calorie intake is also essential in achieving and maintaining any weight loss goal7.

“Before commencing any form of caloric restriction, it’s important to consult with a qualified dietician,” reminds Duncan.

Myth 4: You can target specific areas for fat loss

False. “Unfortunately, targeting fat loss in specific areas through exercises like crunches or leg lifts is a common myth,” says Duncan.

Fat loss is a holistic process, with overall calorie burn and a healthy diet contributing to shedding excess weight. Unfortunately, it’s not possible to target specific locations8.

Myth 5: No pain, no gain

False. According to Duncan, “Pain is not a necessary part of exercise. While discomfort is expected during a challenging workout, persistent pain may indicate an injury, while soreness after workout, known as delayed onset muscle soreness or DOMS, may actually be a sign you’ve overdone it.”

In an interview with the ABC9, Ken Nosaka, an exercise and sport scientist at Edith Cowan University, put it simply, "We don't need any pain to gain. Unfortunately, if you get sore after exercise, I think your body is telling you how lazy you've been. It is better to have good, high-quality training — frequently — without any damage."

When it comes to exercising, listen to your body, and modify or stop exercises if needed.

Myth 6: The only reason you should exercise is to lose weight

False. “While exercise and increasing activity is a fantastic way to help support weight loss with a balanced diet, there are far more reasons to exercise than just to see the numbers on the scale shift,” says Duncan.

Engaging in consistence exercise leads to improvements in long-term health, sleep, bone density, muscle mass, blood sugar regulation, as well as a a reduced risk of heart attack, lower blood pressure, improved immunity, and a reduced risk of cognitive impairment as you age10.

Myth 7: Women should avoid weightlifting to prevent bulking up

False. Weightlifting, also known as strength training or resistance training, is extremely beneficial for women’s overall health. Resistance training helps to build strength in muscles and protects bones and joints, in addition to helping to reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes5.

With women more likely to develop osteoporosis because of the hormonal changes of menopause, resistance training becomes all the more important as we age11.

If you’re concerned about becoming “bulky” – there’s no need. Women typically lack the testosterone levels required for significant muscle bulk12, making weightlifting a valuable component of a well-rounded fitness routine.

Myth 8: You need a gym membership for effective workouts

False. According to Duncan, “Effective workouts don't require a gym. Many exercises can be done at home or outdoors using minimal equipment. Bodyweight exercises, yoga, and outdoor activities are excellent alternatives to gym workouts.”

At HBF, we have you covered (pardon the pun) with our Workout well at home and Yoga by Megan online series which allow you to tune in and work out when it suits you.

Or, if the gym is more your style, HBF members get awesome discounts at a number of gyms. To view current offers, visit the HBF Member Perks page.


1National Center for Biotechnology Information - Breakfast and exercise contingently affect postprandial metabolism and energy balance in physically active males
2National Center for Biotechnology Information - Effects of exercise timing on sleep architecture and nocturnal blood pressure in prehypertensives
3Orthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine: Effects of Running on the Development of Knee Osteoarthritis - An Updated Systematic Review at Short-Term Follow-up
4Healthdirect - Running tips for beginners
5Healthdirect - Strength training for beginners
6The FAESB Journal - Mechanical over-load induced muscle-derived extracellular vesicles promote adipose tissue lipolysis
7National Center for Biotechnology Information - Role of Physical Activity for Weight Loss and Weight Maintenance
8University of Sydney: Spot reduction - why targeting weight loss to a specific area is a myth
9ABC Health & Wellbeing - 'No pain, no gain' debunked: Why post-exercise soreness is not essential for building muscle
10Better Health Channel - Physical activity - how to get active when you are busy
11Better Health Channel - Osteoporosis and exercise
12The Sydney Morning Herald - Why women shouldn’t worry about bulking up by lifting weights


This article contains general information only and does not take into account the health, personal situation or needs of any person. In conjunction with your GP or treating health care professional, please consider whether the information is suitable for you and your personal circumstances.