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5 Fitness Facts You Don’t Know

By Marc Perry / July 1, 2017

There are a lot of interesting facts about fitness that the general public doesn’t know about. These are the facts you won’t hear about in a late night infomercial, but I think you will find them enlightening and intriguing.

I also want to create the impression that while we don’t know EVERYTHING about the science behind fat loss, muscle gain etc., we know a lot.

Here are 5 fitness facts that can make some great trivia questions:

Fitness Fact #1:

The only place fat is “burned” in your body is in the mitochondria 1

The mitochondria, which is the “powerhouse” of each cell that helps your body produce energy is the only place where fat is burned in your body (are you getting flashbacks to high school biology?). Assuming you’re following the tips on BuiltLean.com, fatty acids in your body will be transported to your mitochondria to undergo oxidation, which is a process where two-carbon molecules are repeatedly split apart from the fatty acid in a chemical reaction.

What if there was a way to increase the number of mitochondria in your cells so your body essentially becomes a larger fat burning furnace that more efficiently burns fat? Well, there is a simple way to increase the size AND number of mitochondria, but I’ll have to save that tidbit for a future post.

If you’re feeling particularly ambitious, you can check out a very dense primer on fat metabolism, which is the science behind fat loss here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fatty_acid_metabolism.

Fitness Fact #2:

Muscles can only “Pull” 2

When I first learned this interesting factoid, I was confused as to how the heck this is possible. I mean, if you do pushups, aren’t your muscles pushing? Well, not really. Even during a pressing motion, your muscles contract, which pulls against a lever that ends up pushing. Muscle can contract and relax. That’s about it.

Fitness Fact #3:

Exercise can be as effective as medication for relieving short-term anxiety 3

There are many reasons to exercise (See: 31 Reasons to Exercise), but for one benefit in particular – reducing anxiety – exercise is shown by research to be as effective as taking anti-anxiety medications. It is believed exercise helps reduce anxiety for a few reasons (1) it causes your body to release endorphins, which are pain-relieving chemicals that can create feelings of well-being, (2) it takes your mind of stress, and (3) gives you a feeling of accomplishment.

Fitness Fact #4

People who are physically inactive can lose as much as 3% to 5% of their muscle mass per decade after age 30 4

Sarcopenia is a term which describes muscle loss in adults as they age. Without regular exercise, muscle loss can lead to deterioration in strength and quality of life. Exercise and proper nutrition can help stave off sarcopenia. So if you are exercising consistently, you don’t have too much to worry about; just make sure you are lifting weights!

Fitness Fact #5

Lactic acid does NOT cause the burn in your muscles, but helps the burn decrease 5

That burning sensation you feel in your muscles during intense exercise, referred to as “acidosis” is not caused by lactic acid build up. In fact, recent research has conclusively shown that lactic acid does not exist as an acid in the body, but exists in another form called “lactate”, which decreases the burning sensation, or acidosis in the muscles. Not only does lactate help decrease the burn in your muscles, but it’s an important fuel that can be converted in the liver to glucose, which is then used as an energy source. For a more information on lactic acid and its role in exercise, check out the “Exercise and Lactate” here: Exercise & Lactic Acid.

Did you know any of these facts, or find any particularly interesting?


  • Hassan says:

    Thank you Marc, this article is very interesting and valuable!!

  • Joanne says:

    Wow, thank you for the food for thought!

  • Mary says:

    Great information! I am looking forward to future posts.

  • Holly Ferguson says:

    so, just curious - what happens after liposuction? Assuming that the person maintains the same caloric load and metabolic output as before lipo, the body should still work on storing fat. Will it store in the fat cells left, or does the body recreate the fat cells that were sucked out in the abdomen or thighs?

    • Marc Perry says:

      @Holly Ferguson - I don't know is the short answer. I came across an article that points to fat being stored in other areas of the body more than the areas that underwent liposuction http://www.liposuction4you.com/fat_grow_back.htm. At the end of the day, as you mention, more calories than one burns will lead to overall fat gain in those who underwent liposuction.

  • Zo says:

    Interesting stuff. Do you have any references I can check out for fact #5?

    • Marc Perry says:

      @Zo - There are tons of references (too many to mention in my Essentials of Strength And Conditioning Textbook by the NSCA) but am having trouble finding something on pubmed.com. For a physiologist discussing lactic acid in more detail, check out this article: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/why-does-lactic-acid-buil/