The 13 Worst Health and Fitness Trends of 2022

The 13 Worst Health and Fitness Trends of 2022

Photo:  Tero Vesalainen (Shutterstock)

Photo: Tero Vesalainen (Shutterstock)

When it comes to health and fitness trends, we’ve seen some doozies this year. Some are silly and ineffective; others are potentially lethal. Let’s reminisce about the worst of them, and promise ourselves we won’t fall for any of their ilk in the new year.

Testicle tanning

Photo:  Janos Kummer (Getty Images)

Photo: Janos Kummer (Getty Images)

This was the year that suntanning your balls (ideally with a $1,600 panel of red lights) made it big. For a while now it’s been one of the niche practices that the tech-bro-biohacker crowd thinks is totally normal, but that the rest of us absolutely laugh at. This year, Tucker Carlson brought it into the mainstream. Thanks, Tucker.

Read more

Ditching weight training because of cortisol

Photo:  sfilippovs (Shutterstock)

Photo: sfilippovs (Shutterstock)

Cortisol is a hormone that has many roles in our bodies, including forming memories and regulating our salt balance. One of its better-known functions relates to stress and inflammation, and from this grain of truth TikTok influencers have constructed a story about how lifting weights increases cortisol, and cortisol makes you gain weight, and therefore if you want to be skinny you need to put down the barbell and only do Pilates.

Almost none of this is true. Exercise does temporarily increase cortisol levels, but that’s not a bad thing; hitting our bodies with a recoverable form of stress is literally the point of exercise.

DIY herbal abortions

Photo:  Chepko Danil Vitalevich (Shutterstock)

Photo: Chepko Danil Vitalevich (Shutterstock)

Both before and after Roe v. Wade was overturned, people made sure to pass each other tips about abortion access on social media. Some of these were helpful, like websites where you can connect with an organization that can help you get an abortion. Others were downright dangerous, like insinuating that anyone with an unwanted pregnancy can easily terminate it by drinking a cup of pennyroyal tea. Meanwhile, the scientific literature has documented deaths from self-administered pennyroyal. The stuff can cause liver failure.

In truth, herbal abortions are far more dangerous than the medical kind, and they don’t even necessarily work. Or, as I put it in the post linked above: “This is a medical procedure. It’s one where you may be going into it not even knowing the appropriate dosage, the side effects to watch out for, the success rate, or the risks you are taking. Would you accept that for anything else?”

Vinegar for weight loss

Photo:  denira (Shutterstock)

Photo: denira (Shutterstock)

I think by now we all know there isn’t “one weird trick” for weight loss, but people keep trying to sell it to us, anyway. I wrote this year about how all weight loss “hacks” suck, inspired by yet another mainstream publication putting blatantly false claims into a headline. In this case, the claim was about vinegar, but read more at that link for some even more egregious ones—including the idea that putting “a spread” on toast is going to somehow achieve “fast weight loss.”

The 12-3-30 treadmill workout

Photo:  Microgen (Shutterstock)

Photo: Microgen (Shutterstock)

Incline treadmill walking is a fine way to get your cardio, but the 12-3-30 workout lands on this list because its specificity is asinine. All the TikTok girlies swear by 12{35112b74ca1a6bc4decb6697edde3f9edcc1b44915f2ccb9995df8df6b4364bc} incline, 3.0 miles per hour, for 30 minutes on the treadmill. Why? I scream to the heavens. This combination of settings is going to be too hard for many beginners, and too easy for some fitter folks. PS: It’s not a secret to weight loss, and it doesn’t replace strength training either.

The “internal shower”

Photo:  New Africa (Shutterstock)

Photo: New Africa (Shutterstock)

Of all the silly gut health trends we’ve seen on TikTok, the “internal shower” has got to be my favorite. In one glass you have fiber (from chia seeds) and a healthy dose of hydration (from the water). It’s supposed to be good for, uh, cleaning you out. Or, in other words: the influencers have reinvented Metamucil. Only this time, it gets a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, the wellness version of fairy dust.

Being scared of situps

Photo:  Stephen McCluskey (Shutterstock)

Photo: Stephen McCluskey (Shutterstock)

Honestly, worrying about situps is a perpetual trend. I wrote here about how the situp is always somewhere in the cycle of being demonized and reinvented. Neither situps, nor crunches, nor any of their relatives are actually “bad for your back.” What’s actually bad for your back are high-rep fitness tests that require you to do an abdominal exercise under conditions of extreme muscular fatigue. This does not apply to doing normal amounts of situps in a normal gym routine.

“Gut health” supplements

Photo:  Meeko Media (Shutterstock)

Photo: Meeko Media (Shutterstock)

Influencers are now using “gut health” as a euphemism for having a thin waist:
You’re not fat and trying to lose weight, you’re bloated and need to support your gut health. The latest trend in this space is telling people they need to buy L-glutamine or other “gut health” supplements. But as the Canadian Society of Intestinal Research points out, if you have a gut issue that’s so severe your body can’t make its own L-glutamine, you have a health condition that needs a doctor’s attention.

Syncing your workouts to your menstrual cycle

Photo:  Kaspars Grinvalds (Shutterstock)

Photo: Kaspars Grinvalds (Shutterstock)

If you ovulate and menstruate (as many women not on hormonal birth control do), you may notice a slight difference in how your workouts feel during certain weeks of the month—or, then again, you might not.

If that’s an issue for you, it makes sense to keep your workouts consistent, but to cut yourself some slack if a given day is particularly hard. Most workout programs account for this anyway (since we all have rough days from time to time, whether we menstruate or not). But some influencers have made a whole schtick out of telling you that certain weeks are just for gentle yoga and walking. In truth, skipping out on hard training for a week or more every month is just going to make it harder to achieve your goals, since consistency is one of the most important factors in helping your body improve and recover.

75 Hard

Photo:  Tero Vesalainen (Shutterstock)

Photo: Tero Vesalainen (Shutterstock)

Again! Sometimes 75 Hard feels like a villain that keeps getting vanquished, and then it pops up again in the sequel. Last year we dissected 75 Hard and used it as the canonical example of a terrible fitness challenge.

Sometimes things are worth doing in spite of the fact that they are hard. Or to put it another way, many worthwhile things in life are hard. But 75 Hard gets that backwards: it thinks you’re supposed to make life hard for yourself for no reason, and then convince yourself that this means the challenge is worthwhile.

Avoiding microwaves

Photo: (Shutterstock)

Photo: (Shutterstock)

Another zombie trend, microwave ovens are getting a new fresh round of pseudoscientific hate. You would think we got over this by the 1970s, but the old arguments are back, and there are people who think that cooking food in microwave ovens is to be avoided. In truth, microwaves just heat food. They don’t destroy nutrients (no more than other cooking methods, anyway) and the only reason they’re not recommended for baby formula is that it’s hard to ensure a bottle has been heated evenly.

Rubbing oranges on your teeth

Photo:  Billion Photos (Shutterstock)

Photo: Billion Photos (Shutterstock)

Tooth whitening hacks are out of control, with one of the most popular being the idea that you should rub oranges on your teeth to make them whiter. Not only does this not work, dentists say it’s bad for your teeth. Same goes for a variety of other whitening hacks, which can be abrasive or soften the enamel of your teeth.

Making NyQuil chicken for the lulz

Photo: (Shutterstock)

Photo: (Shutterstock)

“Sleepytime chicken” was a cute joke when it was just one photo of (raw?) chicken in a blue marinade. But the FDA warned us about it when it detected the possibility of a new Tide Pod-style meme flood, in which the teens dare each other to eat the thing that obviously should not be eaten.

Look, nobody wants to eat NyQuil chicken. The FDA knows that, and the memers know that. But NyQuil chicken is a bad enough idea that you could potentially get sick just from making the dish or eating a small portion. Here’s hoping we can get through 2023 without another “trend” like this one.

More from Lifehacker

Sign up for Lifehacker’s Newsletter. For the latest news, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Click here to read the full article.