Today I am going to attempt to play the role ofpendulum stopper or thebaby in the bathwater. In other words, I am going to take a look at a few aspects of the exercise and nutrition world that have taken some heat for being any combination of useless, counter-productive or unhealthy. I am here to offer up some context and perhaps make the argument that there is some use for said evils.

1. Steady state cardio: This one has taken a beating - from fat loss and performance specialists, to pop diet book authors and journalists. Is all the criticism justified?

The other side: Steady state or otherwise longer slower distance cardio is vastly inferior to both higher intensity training and resistance training (from a fat loss and health perspective). That said, this kind of training can be useful in addition to the aforementioned for the purpose of burning additional calories, as well as a recovery medium from the tougher workouts.

2. Carbs: Right out of the shoot, lower carb diets can be very useful tools in shedding pounds and improving health markers. But does that mean we should keep them as low as possible?

The other side: Strict carb-controlled diets needn't be the default way of eating for all people all of the time. Lower carb diets can help people keep caloric intake in check, but activity levels, insulin sensitivity and dieting history need to be taken into consideration. Keeping protein intake adequate renders the carbohydrate intake almost irrelevant in most cases, and not everyone can stick to a strictly carb-controlled diet either.

3. Static Stretching: Literature has shown that static stretching does nothing to reduce injuries and

 can even impede performance. Should we avoid it altogether?

The other side: Like steady state cardio, static stretching has its place. For example it can be beneficial for someone who has noticeable tightness (mild shortening of the tissues surrounding the joint). Such a program should be targeted and complemented by mobility exercises and perhaps some soft tissue work with a foam roll, lacrosse or tennis ball. Don't bother static stretching before exercise.

4. Balance Implements (Stability ball, BOSU, etc): As someone who is outspoken on the limitations of such devices, I have noticed a trend in hard-lined trainers and coaches to avoid them like the plague. Is there ever a benefit of using balance training devices?

The other side: While balance training certainly does not make an exercise functional, nor does it

 help improve performance per se, there are some uses for balance implements such as the BOSU. Ankle rehabilitation is one example of a good, evidence-based use of the BOSU. 

The take-home message here is that everything must be viewed within its proper context. I feel that by categorically endorsing or dismissing an exercise or nutritional entity, we close ourselves off to other possibilities.