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Health and Fitness

Professor writes book on 101 common myths

Answers to health, fitness myths and more

UW-L Professor Brian Udermann

Brian Udermann remembers his parents telling him to uncover a cut when he went to bed because it would “air out” and heal faster. But now that the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse Exercise and Sport Science Professor has studied that advice, he’s discovered his parents were wrong. And, they were wrong about a number of other things too.
“A lot of things we were told by our parents — and what we tell our children in turn — don’t hold up with modern-day research,” explains Udermann.

Udermann first started teaching about myths and misconceptions in his health and wellness classes at UW-L. He soon found out that students liked them the most and learned a lot from them. He eventually dedicated a class session or two to myths. Their popularity led him to write his first book, “25 Ways to Cure the Hiccups: Uncovering the Truth Behind 101 Common Myths and Misconceptions.”

For the book, Udermann categorized myths in four areas: Exercise and Fitness; Nutrition; General Health; and Non-Health Myths. The myths range from “Swimming after meals is dangerous” (it isn’t) to “Some red food colorings are made up of ground bugs” (they are).

Udermann backs up his “True” and “False” claims with scientific research findings. He called on UW-L colleague Professor Carl Foster, who along with UW-L Professor John Porcari, research the latest health and fitness crazes, to help answer Myth No. 39: “If you wait to drink until you are thirsty, you are already dehydrated.” It’s false. Foster, former president of the American College of Sports Medicine, says it was a common belief about a decade ago, but most experts today say it’s perfectly acceptable to let thirst be your guide.

Udermann says his book is an easy read (each myth is detailed on the front and back of one page) and will be popular with a wide variety of people.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re a CEO, construction worker, teacher or an electrician, your health is important to you,” notes Udermann. “This book provides excellent information on exercise, nutrition and general health topics and is a fun read.”

And if you don’t find an answer to a myth you’re looking for, don’t worry. Udermann is already working on his next book, which will include an additional 101 common myths and misconceptions.

10 Common Myths: True or False? —

  1. You will burn more calories if you run a mile than if you walk a mile … TRUE! On average you’ll burn about 100 calories running a mile v. 80 walking.
  2. It is healthier to be 25 pounds overweight and physically active than to be at your optimal weight and sedentary … TRUE! Many high-quality research studies have shown that overweight and obese individuals who were active and fit had morbidity and mortality rates at least as low – and often lower – than sedentary normal weight people.
  3. We have more free time today than we did in 1965 … TRUE! How? Consider the average American watches nearly four hours of TV a day. Additionally, technological advances such as snow blowers and riding lawn mowers allows us to do things much faster than we could 40-plus years ago, thus giving us more free time.
  4. Shaving makes hair grow back thicker … FALSE! If only this were true. Shaving doesn’t impact the diameter or thickness of hair follicles. One reason recently shaved areas might appear thicker is that stubble is contrasted against the skin and may appear darker.
  5. Going outside with wet hair increases your risk of catching a cold … FALSE! Not true, despite what our parents said. To catch a cold you must be exposed to a virus that causes the cold. Going outside with wet hair or without a jacket won’t do it.
  6. Eating sugar makes kids hyperactive … FALSE! Multiple placebo-controlled studies of sugar failed to provide any evidence that sugar ingestion leads to hyperactivity.
  7. It is important to drink at least 64 ounces of water a day … FALSE! The Institute of Medicine recommends we consume 70 to 100 ounces of fluids a day. These fluids can be milk, tea, coffee, water, juice, etc.
  8. Drinking beer in moderation is good for you health … TRUE! The key here is: moderation! (And, sorry, you can’t make up dry weekdays on weekends.) Studies show that consuming alcohol in moderation results in a 20-30 percent decrease in risk for cardiovascular disease. Scientists think alcohol helps elevate good cholesterol.
  9. You should usually let fevers run their course without giving medications … TRUE! Fever is part of the body’s natural immune system defense against invading microorganisms. So, generally, temps in the 100s need to be treated only for comfort.
  10. When you stop exercising, muscle usually turns to fat … FALSE! Muscle and fat are two separate tissues in our bodies. Muscle never turns into or converts to fat, or vice versa.

To get the book:
The book costs $12.99 and can be ordered on Amazon.com.

 

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