Whether it is read online or heard from family and friends, there is a wealth of information available regarding ways an individual can improve their health and fitness. However, while most of this information is presented as fact, it may actually be based on common misconceptions. The following dispels many popular health and fitness myths.Myth: Stretch Before ExercisingStretching is a crucial component of exercise; however, it should not be performed before a proper warm-up. Although many people may believe stretching before a workout will increase range of motion while exercising, stretching cold muscles that are not warmed up can result in injury and can impede performance. A brief five to ten warm-up will prime muscles prior to stretching or exercising and can prevent injury.Myth: Strength Training Causes Women to Look BulkySome women may avoid strength training due to the fear that they will develop large, bulky muscles. In reality, women simply do not produce the amount of testosterone that is needed for muscles to significantly increase in size. Due to this lack of necessary hormones, it is not possible for women to gain large amounts of muscle through natural means. Rather, strength training is necessary for increasing metabolism and strengthening bones.Myth: Performing Crunches Eliminates Abdominal FatWhile it is completely untrue, many people believe that they can reduce abdominal fat by performing crunches or other abdominal exercises. In order to see muscle definition, overall body fat must be reduced. This is accomplished through an exercise program that contains cardiovascular activities and strength training. Although performing crunches will strengthen the abdominals, these exercises alone will not eliminate body fat in the area.Myth: Drink at Least Eight Glasses of Water Each DayIt is not necessary to adhere to the adage that everyone should drink eight glasses of water each day. Most people consume plenty of fluids and recent research has shown that many food sources and beverages such as juice, coffee and soda can also help people meet their hydration needs. In general, individuals should drink water only when they feel thirsty, unless they have certain medical conditions, live in a hot or humid climate, or have been exercising.Myth: Pain During Exercise Produces ResultsAlthough it is normal to experience mild soreness or discomfort one day after exercising, individuals should never feel pain while they are exercising. Pain felt during exercise is often indicative of injury and can be caused by exercising improperly or over exercising.Myth: Soothe Muscle Soreness With a Hot BathSince blood vessels dilate and become wider when exercising, it is possible for lactic acid to build up, which causes muscle soreness. While sitting in warm water may be comfortable and relaxing, chilled water is actually more suitable for anyone experiencing muscle soreness. Cold water causes blood vessels to narrow, which can decrease any waste products that can build up in muscles.