By MATT KOESTERS
> SOUTHERN INDIANA —
Most fitness-related myths about men involve vanity.
Actually, you could probably say that about both men and women, but men seem to have a lot of silly theories about how they can look more rugged, stay young and stay fit. And most of them don’t really involve working that hard to achieve those goals.
Don’t like how thin your beard is? Just shave it more often. Don’t like that beer gut? Just do some crunches (and nevermind working out otherwise). That’s how men roll.
Sure, the desire for easier ways to get what we want has spurred innovation across the technological spectrum. We’ve got fast cars to get where we’re going in a hurry, we’ve got calculators to unburden ourselves from memorizing formulas and we’ve got televisions to save us a trip to the stadium.
It’s funny that we put so much time coming up with shortcuts when we could just put in the work. But ... we’re men. Making sense and accepting reality is what we do only when all else fails, right?
QUESTION: Will regularly shaving make my beard grow back thicker?
THE SHORT ANSWER: Nope.
THE NOT-SO-SHORT ANSWER: The thickness and rate of growth of your facial hair is largely predetermined by genetics. You can’t make your hair follicles any thicker using nothing but a razor blade. Hair is really just protein that’s sticking out of your skin, and cutting it off does nothing to alert your body to the fact that it’s not there anymore. It’s not a muscle. You can’t train it. If you’re desperate for a fuller beard, you might try talking to your doctor about some elective surgery to rearrange some follicles, but likely you’re stuck with what you’ve got. And hey, don’t put Rogaine on your face — it’s not approved for that use and getting it in your mouth could be really bad for you.
QUESTION: Can regular crunches get rid of my belly fat?
THE SHORT ANSWER: Only if you’re working out the rest of your body, too.
THE NOT-SO-SHORT ANSWER: You might wind up with a six pack if you work your abdominal muscles daily, but the best way to get rid of belly fat is through eating right and regularly working out your body. If you do the crunches and nothing else, you’ll still get the six pack, but it will be concealed by your keg.
QUESTION: Is running bad for my knees?
THE SHORT ANSWER: Quite the opposite if you stick with it.
THE NOT-SO-SHORT ANSWER: People think that because running puts more stress on their knees and feet than say, using a cross-trainer, it’s got to contribute to long-term problems from a joint-health standpoint. But a 2008 study released by Stanford University’s immunology and rheumatology department found that adults who run consistently have 25 percent less joint pain and arthritis than non-runners as they age. For purposes of this study, a “runner” was someone who regularly hit the road at least six hours per week.
QUESTION: If I’m not exhibiting symptoms, I probably don’t have prostate cancer, right?
THE SHORT ANSWER: Not necessarily.
THE NOT-SO-SHORT ANSWER: Not all men experience symptoms related to prostate cancer, and many times the symptoms (which include need to urinate frequently, weak urinary flow, arousal difficulty and lower back pain) can be dismissed as something else. While the first method of prostate cancer detection might seem unpleasant to a lot of men, it’s worth it to get checked regularly to detect it early and stop it while it’s treatable.