Survey says: Most summer bodies stayed under wraps this year by Susan Bowerman, MS, RD, CSSD, FAND


Survey says: Most summer bodies stayed under wraps this year | Susan Bowerman | Discover Good NutritionIt’s late spring, and you’re standing in line at the supermarket, staring at the magazines.  The covers are graced with people who are tanned, toned and fit and the headlines scream, “get your bikini body now!” or “there’s still time to shape up for summer!”  And many of us do toss around the idea of getting rid of a little excess flab that’s been hiding under bulky sweaters and long coats all winter.  But how many people actually attempt to get in shape for summer?  And, when they slip into their swimsuits, how do they feel “letting it all hang out”?  In order to find out, Herbalife sponsored a nationwide survey* – and the results were really surprising. 

The survey asked 1000 men and women whether they tried to diet and exercise their way to a better body for the summer, and how they felt about being seen in swimwear.  And a large majority – 69% of the women and 76% of the men – said that they put forth absolutelyno effort to get in shape for the summer.

And while we didn’t gather height and weight data in the survey, it’s probably safe to say that most of those surveyed are carrying around more weight than they’d like.  When asked how they felt about their bodies being out in plain view, only 3.5% thought, “I’ve got it, so I flaunt it”.  And despite summer’s searing heat wave, more than half said they keep their bodies “under wraps”, 36% said they’re “embarrassed to be seen in a bathing suit”, and another 16% avoid swimming situations altogether – because they simply don’t want to be seen.

Interestingly, the majority – 61 percent – admitted that while their bodies aren’t perfect, they were comfortable with what they’ve got.  And on the surface, that body acceptance would appear to be a good thing.  But when nationwide statistics are also showing that, as a nation, we’re just getting heavier and heavier, it could also suggest that our view of what a normal and healthy body looks like is shifting – in the wrong direction.  And, that may mean that many are simply giving up the fight to get fit – they’re working out less and loving it more.

With so many people keeping themselves covered up and avoiding the water altogether, a day of activity at the beach or pool is a missed opportunity for those who could really use it.  Swimming is a great cardio workout, and the natural resistance of the water helps to build muscle.  And a walk or jog in the sand at the beach really works the legs.

So now imagine that it’s next spring, and you’re standing at the checkout line, looking at the magazine covers.  Okay – maybe you can’t get a bikini body in time for summer – but you sure aren’t going to get one if you spend the summer on the couch.  Instead of avoiding the beach and the pool (or the mirror) next year, get into those swimming togs, get outside and get moving.  While it’s great to be comfortable with the body you’ve got, if you take care if it with proper diet and exercise, it’ll also be the best body it can be.

*Survey of US adult population, conducted by Synovate eNation, June 27, 2011 through June 29, 2011, margin of error +/- 3 percentage points.

Written by Susan Bowerman, MS, RD, CSSD. Susan is a paid consultant for Herbalife.

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