Insight Update

The fitness and diet myths thwarting Brits’ health goals

A new study has revealed a number of myths believed by a high proportion of British adults, which could be scuppering many people’s attempts to get fit and healthy.

A survey of more than 7,600 UK adults published by Decathlon in the Decathlon Activity Index, revealed a series of incorrect beliefs that British adults have about diet and exercise.

More than half (58%) of those surveyed didn’t believe that doing more cardio helps you lose weight quicker – despite the fact that this is in fact the case.

The misconceptions around healthy lifestyles and exercise were widespread – despite the fact that 92% of Brits polled in the same survey said they feel confident they fully understand what a healthy balanced lifestyle is.
Meanwhile, more than one in four (28 per cent) wrongly believe that the more you sweat, the more fat is burned.

One in five Brits wrongly think that workouts lasting less than an hour are ineffective and similarly, 17 per cent felt that the longer the workout, the better the results will be – meaning many could be missing out on the benefits of shorter, more intensive sessions when they are pressed for time.

Almost one in five (19 per cent) believe it is more effective to exercise in the morning – again meaning those who are not able to train before work could be writing off the benefits of evening workouts.

More than one in ten (14 per cent) believe that lifting weights will make you look bulky, while ten per cent wrongly think that you need protein after a workout or it is a waste.

3,986,136 million adults believe that eating carbohydrates means no weight will be lost.

While the same number think that taking supplements before and after exercise is key, which completed the top ten list of fitness myths.

The research also investigated potential reasons why, and revealed that many are relying on health and fitness advice from those who are not necessarily trained or knowledgeable on the subject. People are more likely to turn to friends for tips and advice on diet and exercise than anyone else – with 28 per cent admitting they do this.

A similar number (23 per cent) admitted they use the internet to become better informed.

Joshua Gutteridge, sports manager at Decathlon, said: “Given so many are turning to non-professional sources for advice on diet and exercise, it’s perhaps unsurprising that so many are getting the facts wrong about fitness and exercise. But this could be really hindering their progress as many could be discounting cardio, shorter workouts and evening exercise – or even putting undue emphasis on things like the amount of time they have exercised for or how much they have sweat.

“No matter what your reasons for embarking on a fitness regime, whether it be to lose weight, feel fitter or to be more sociable, it is important to educate yourself about exercise beforehand to understand what a healthy balanced lifestyle – but to do so using a qualified professional. Talk to a personal trainer who has knowledge and a clear understanding about fitness so you can learn how to start your new regime in a healthy way. There are many different myths about diet and exercise, so speaking to someone before you get started is a great way to prepare yourself for the fitness journey ahead.”

The top ten most commonly believed fitness and nutrition myths:

1. Doing less cardio helps you lose weight quicker – 58%
2. Sweating more means you burn more fat – 28%
3. Workouts should be an hour or longer to be effective – 20%
4. It’s not effective to exercise in the morning – 19%
5. The longer the workout, the better the result – 17%
6. Lifting weights will make you look bulky – 14%
7. You need protein after a workout or it is a waste – 10%
8. Crunches results in weight loss – 8%
9. Eating carbohydrates means you won’t lose weight – 6%
10. Taking supplements before and after exercise is key – 6%

The Decathlon Activity Index tracks rates of participation in sport and other physical activities across the year through a national survey repeated every month throughout the year. To view the Decathlon Activity Index, visit

Decathlon has 45 stores in the UK and sells a variety of sports equipment, clothing and accessories perfect for those want to get active or excel their performance.

For more information, visit

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