An Olympic Gold Medalist On What Most People Get Wrong About Fitness


What are some common misconceptions that many people have about physical fitness? originally appeared on Quora: the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.

Answer by Ashton Eaton, 2x Decathlon Olympic gold medalist, on Quora:

One of the main misconceptions people have about fitness is that they think results from exercise should be near immediate. On the order of a couple weeks. That’s insane to me. The body is not on the same timescale as the mind. And I think it’s hard for people to understand that. Especially if you work hard, you think there should be some massive change to equate to your massive effort. That’s not the case. I believe many get discouraged as a result.

Another is that getting physically fit is this horrible thing. It doesn’t have to be. That does not mean it will not be tough, but I don’t think that means it has to be horrible.

Also, elite athletes or models or celebrities are not the image of physical fitness. We raise them up as an ideal when the fact is they are a narrow representation. They do a specific thing at an extreme level over and over for years. It’s unsustainable and a harmful thing to aspire to. It’s better to do something fairly effort full often (run/gym/sport/dance, etc.) and then move normally, like walking, each day. Do this while eating well and all over a long period of time (preferably your whole life) and I think you’ll become fit and healthy. You don’t have to go to the well with things and beat yourself into the ground. Even as an elite athlete I rarely went to the well. There’s diminishing returns with that kind of thing.

This question originally appeared on Quora – the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world. You can follow Quora on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. More questions:

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