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Four out of ten fitness fanatics exercise to look good rather than to be healthy, a new study has shown. Researchers found that many of those who exercise regularly are far more concerned about looking and feeling attractive than ensuring they are fit and well.
The figures show that a washboard stomach or toned legs which can be shown off to others is still a key motivation for many.
Men are most concerned about their bulging biceps and a six-pack, while women are keen to trim pounds from their stomachs, the study found.
More than half of women said they went to the gym to try and achieve toned legs in a bid to feel good when wearing skirts and dresses.
The poll of 2,000 men and women was carried out by Nurofen Express Heat Patches.
A spokeswoman said:
”Image is clearly everything for many adults; it seems that people are not primarily concerned about damaging their body as long as they look good.”
The researchers found 44% of people only embark on regular exercise to stop them from looking overweight, while 28% believe it helps them fight the signs of ageing.
But whatever the intentions for taking up exercise, a large percentage end up injuring themselves with their ‘faddy’ approach to sports and fitness.
The stats show more than half never warm up before they exercise, and six in ten don’t bother to warm down.
Four in ten have injured themselves while working out – with the most common injuries being strains, sprains and torn ligaments.
Worryingly, the results also revealed a large percentage of women (43%) and men (41%) have been forced to quit sport and fitness due to injury.
Just under half of those polled admit they are far more motivated to exercise in the lead up to an event such as a party, wedding, birthday or holiday.
It also emerged 34% of men exercise in the hope of gaining an impressive set of pecs.
Six out of ten women said they were hung up about their tummies and exercise to try and combat the bulge.
A further 52% of women want toned legs, while 36% are worried about having a big bum.
Other key motivators for exercise and fitness include wanting to impress a partner (18%), feeling strong (37%) and to fit into a particular outfit (14%).
One in 10 people only go to the gym in the hope they will meet someone and find love, and 11% will exercise more to make themselves feel better after a night on the town.
Furthermore, 57% noted that they always feel thinner after a workout, while two thirds feel more toned.
When it comes to celebrities men would like to look like, Hugh Jackman tops the poll, closely followed by Brad Pitt.
While women wish they had the physique of model Kelly Brook, or Holly Willoughby.
Dr Mike Loosemore, consultant in sport and exercise medicine at University College London comments on the findings:
”The results of this survey show that many people are increasing their exercise to look better, whatever the reason it is proven that increasing exercise not only improves the way you look on the outside but also improves your health on the inside.
”To sustain these positive effects of exercise it is important to remain injury free, to do this it is key to prepare to exercise and treat any injuries early.
”It’s great that people are exercising regularly but if we want to enjoy sport and fitness we need to care for our bodies.
”My top tip would be to ensure you warm up and cool down correctly, these few minutes at the beginning and end of a workout can make all the difference and ensure that you can continue your exercise regime, whatever your motivation.”