Appearance, Disappearance

The Appearance of Health

Fitness, Participation vs Clothes, 2015.01How deep is the public concern about obesity? Are we more interested in health, or in the appearance of health?

A quick look at what we wear versus what we do suggests that the appearance of fitness activity is more important to us than actually engaging in fitness activities. Men are more likely to wear athletic clothes than to actually do anything athletic. Women are more likely to wear yoga pants than to actually do yoga. We’ll leave it to you to speculate whether women’s self reports of physical activity are more reliable than those from men.

Perhaps fitness is, for some, more of a fashion statement than a personal health commitment. Making fitness fashionable is a bit of a two-edged sword. On one hand, dressing for a role can be a start for living it out.

On the other hand, an emphasis on appearance rather than health benefits for fitness in women has been shown to interfere with a positive body image and persistence in fitness activities. A pair of recent studies published in Body Image found that a focus on health for fitness activities might help avoid body image issues that were more likely to arise with a focus on appearance aspects.

There’s nothing wrong with looking healthy. But what really matters is living life as your healthiest self.

“Let us be grateful to the mirror for revealing to us our appearance only.” — Samuel Butler

Click here and here to read the studies of fitness and body image.

Appearance and Disappearance, photograph © Richard John Pozon / flickr

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2 Responses to “The Appearance of Health”

  1. January 11, 2015 at 12:17 pm, Amy Endrizal said:

    I couldn’t avoid a flashback to Billy Crystal’s wonderful old SNL sketch, “Fernando’s Hideaway,” in which Fernando famously told his guests, “You look mahhhvelous!” He always closed with his reminder, “Remember, friends, it’s better to look good than to feel good!” (Sigh…)

    • January 11, 2015 at 3:20 pm, Ted said:

      Thanks, Amy!