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Body image, a weighty issue for men

Glen Carrigan 2011

The Central YMCA (where my fitness qualifications came from) recently found that body image issues are no longer the province of women alone. Increasingly men are feeling anxious about for example a lack of muscle and their “beer belly”. In addition us men are actually expressing our feelings to eachother nowadays which goes against the stereotypical Alpha male persona which can be a good thing but also a burden at times.

The University of West England’s appearance research department asked 384 British men with an average age of 40 years their opinions on their appearance. A huge 60% of respondants thought their arms, chest and stomachs weren’t muscular enough and 1 in 5 men reported that they were on a high protein diet. 35% of participants said they would give up a whole year of their lives to attain their ideal body.

Thought’s that come to mind quite readily here are that men seem to be alot more body concious in today’s society. Blame what you will for that, media representations of the ideal, perceived expectations of the opposite sex, and many more catalysts to why people critique their bodies. Might it be true to say that pride and a sense of self worth might drive those of us who seek to be better physically? I think so. Whilst there is a wealth of research out there that reports exercise and a balanced diet is good for us we cannot over look the fact that such practices when they border on the obsessive may give rise to eating disorders for example as an obligatory exercise routine is often a factor of an eating disorder (Lepage, Price & O’Neal 2012). However a good diet and regular exercise do more good than bad, just be aware of what you’re doing and more importantly why you’re doing it….. for yourself. It is one of my great hopes for this country that if more people watched what they ate and exercised regularly we could lessen the impact of the obesity epidemic apparent in this country at the moment which takes a vicious toll on the NHS of 1.9 – 2 billion GPB a year.

Eating disorders and health issues asside it shouldn’t be a problem that men are becoming more in touch with their body image so long as it doesn’t cause us to brood over it and become unhealthy to the point of self destruction. Eat healthy, stay physically and mentally active and you should be fine!

BBC News for the full story

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