Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Some Popular Medical Myths

Myth : Do not Eat Immediately Before Swimming.
There is a widespread belief that if a person takes a meal immediately before swimming one is likely to get cramps. This is entirely incorrect. Cramps are not related to food at all. Any sort of violent activity after an enormous tuck-in is bound to cause discomfort but you can certainly have a leisure swim immediately after a moderate meal. The normal body can easily cope with the swimming and the meal, provided there is no excess.

Myth : One Can Put On Weight As One Grows Older
The popular concept that it is normal to have a gradual weight gain every year is not true. In the older age groups, it is a definite health hazard to weigh 10 or 15 kilograms more than what one used to weigh when one was, say, 21, because, with ageing, there is a decrease in muscle mass and increase in the fat content of the body. The ideal weight in old age should be one's weight when one was about 21 years old.

Myth : Extra Protein Gives Immediate Extra Strength
A normal body has such large reserves of proteins and fat that it normally does not need any food supplements in the way of extra protein. The average diet normally gives the body all the food it requires and no special diet is necessary for special bodily activity. But what often happens is that if any food is taken on the assumption that it will help, it usually does result in better physical performance. But this is not due to the food at all - it is entirely psychological. In fact, extensive tests have established that the kind of food you eat before you undertake any special physical activity makes no differences-whatsoever in your performance.

Myth :
Extra Hours Of Sleep Help
This is not at all correct. You cannot store sleep. The body just needs a certain amount of sleep and no more. In fact, a long bed rest has a de-conditioning effect.

Myth :
Never Take Fluid While Exercising Or During Meals
This is entirely wrong. The body needs fluid while exercising. When one exercises, one becomes thirsty and dehydrated. Fluid then becomes very necessary. In fact, it is harmful not to have fluid while you are exercising if you are thirsty. One should drink until one's thirst is quenched but not in excess. Drinking water during meals is all right and does not dilute the digestive juices to the extent of harming digestion, as long as no excessive water is drunk.

Myth : Sugar Taken Before Exercise Raises The Energy Level
This is probably not correct. In fact, excessive sweet-taking over along period of time makes demands on insulin production which the body may not be able to cope with: this might eventually lead to diabetes. Although it is not completely established it is unlikely that extra sugar gives direct extra energy.

Myth : Put On A Sweater After Exercise
There is no danger in being comfortably cool after you have exercised. So it is not at all necessary to put on a sweater after exercise. In fact, it is far better to leave your sweater off after exercise and let your body slowly come back to its normal stage. The best clothing for hot weather exercise is the naked skin. When you no longer feel hot and your sweat has subsided, you can then put on your sweater but only if you feel cold.

Myth : Take A Cold Shower After A Hot One To Close Your Pores
This is entirely unnecessary. So many people put themselves to the discomfort of a cold shower after a hot bath under the entirely false belief that it will close their pores and prevent them from getting a chill. This is incorrect. Pores don't have to be closed.

Myth : Sex Should Be Avoided Before Athletics
The popular notion that sexual abstinence keeps one strong and gives one strength has no scientific foundation whatsoever. Infact, it has been found that athletes seem to perform better after sexual intercourse, even when they have had intercourse on the morning of a competition.

Myth : Big Muscles Make You Stronger
Big muscles are all right if there is need for a massive body to push against a heavy load; but today's champions accept the fact that small muscles are the best. The major objective today is not big muscles, but to develop a high-quality body possessed of vigour and the capacity to resist stress and strain.

Myth : Never Exercise In The Hot Noon Sun
There is a widespread belief that you will come to harm if you exercise in the noon-day sun; but this is incorrect. In fact, if the sun is directly overhead, perhaps all you require is a hat to protect your head. In mid-morning or mid-afternoon there is no way to protect your body from the sun's rays which come to it at an angle. Exercise as much as you like in the hot noon-day. It will do you no harm as long as you do not feel uncomfortable.

Myth : Women Who Exercise Lose Their Femininity
This is utter nonsense. In fact, exercise usually gives women more attractive contours. They move with greater grace. Exercise gives a delicious feeling of well-being and relaxation which can be most seductive.

Myth : Stress And Pace Of Modern Life Increases Some Illnesses
The theory that relates the prevalence of certain illnesses today to the rapid pace of modern life does not take into account two points:

  1. Have the illnesses, in fact, become commoner or are we just better at recognizing them? And are there not many illnesses today which one did not have in the old days simply because people today live much longer?
  2. Has stress really increased? The life of a doctor, say in London today, is surely much less stressful than that of a peasant in the Ganges valley in the old days with the ever-present menace of flood, hunger, pestilence and war. It could therefore easily be argued that present-day life is much freer from stress and tension than in the old days.

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