Turns out aspirations to be "model thin" has consequences we may not have even thought of ... New research from Australia claims that not only is our generation of humans not as strong as our parents' or grandparents', but women, in particular, are physically weaker than ever before and "may struggle to complete basic physical tasks." Uh, whoa. Crazy, right? The researchers say that muscular endurance -- the ability to repeatedly exert force, such as doing crunches -- has declined by 8 to 10 percent since the mid-1980s. And they blame the fact that women would rather be thin than fit.
Or more specifically, we're supposedly freaked out to hit the gym and build muscle, for fear of "bulking up."
While I'm balking at the idea that we're all sooo much weaker than ever before, I wouldn't be surprised if our desire to be "skinny" actually is preventing some of us from getting involved in exercise programs that build muscle. I've spoken to a couple of personal trainers recently who either tried to reassure me that I wouldn't "bulk up" if I followed their plan or lamented that women come to them all the time and that seems to be their #1 worry.
Not to mention that so many of us fall victim to the "skinny fat" trap -- hitting the elliptical or treadmill instead of weights, because we're afraid we'll turn into way-too-ripped Madonnas overnight. It's nuts! And apparently, some women pass on exercise altogether, because they'd rather just "look thin," according to Ken Fox, professor of exercise and health sciences at the University of Bristol.
He tells The Daily Mail:
The majority of young females want to look thin. They don’t eat much, they don’t exercise much, and because of that they have weak musculatures -- it’s really not a healthy way to be.
So sad ... As for that fear of bulking up, as the researchers point out, women don't even possess the physiological makeup to get manly muscles. (Unless you're Madonna, I suppose.) And what's more, we need to build muscle if we want to prevent a slew of medical issues (like back pain, joint problems, osteoporosis, etc.) now and later in life.
It really is reason enough to turn our aspirations from getting skinny and slim to lean and fit. The latter is not only sexier -- it's healthier.
Do you make a point to build muscle strength at the gym?
Image via lululemonathletica/Flickr