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Men who are 'couch potatoes' are more likely to want to be muscular and hit the gym, study shows 


Men who are ‘couch potatoes’ and spend a lot of time watching TV are more likely to want to be muscular and hit the gym, study shows

  • Psychologists surveyed men from the United Kingdom, Nicaragua and Uganda
  • In all three countries, those who watch more TV wanted to be muscular more
  • Television exposes people to idealised bodies that they might wish to emulate 
  • The team also found that UK men are more self-conscious over their body image

Men who are ‘couch potatoes’ — those spending a lot of time watching TV — are more likely to want to be muscular and hit the gym, a study has found.

Experts found that men from wealthy western countries like the UK are more motivated to workout than their Nicaraguan and Ugandan counterparts.

However, in all three countries, men that watch more television — and are therefore exposed more to images of idealised bodies — wanted to be muscular more.

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Men who are 'couch potatoes' — those spending a lot of time watching TV — are more likely to want to be muscular and hit the gym, a study has found

Men who are ‘couch potatoes’ — those spending a lot of time watching TV — are more likely to want to be muscular and hit the gym, a study has found

Psychologist Tracey Thornborrow of the University of Lincoln and colleagues examined British men’s obsession with getting a muscular physique — along with related phenomena like relying on protein shakes, unhealthy dieting and steroid use. 

Comparing British men with those from Nicaragua and Uganda, the team assessed each man’s body mass index, along with their feelings about peer pressure and their ideal appearance.

Participants also ranked the perceived level of muscularity of their current body and their ideal body on the so-called ‘Male Adiposity and Muscularity Scale.’

Designed by the Person Perception Lab at the University of Lincoln, the new scale makes use of two-dimensional images created from 3D software, providing a more realistic range of body types and sizes based on measurements of real people.

The researchers also used a form of artificial intelligence to find patterns in their data that might predict which ethnic groups would be driven to achieve more muscle regardless of country of origin.

‘We used machine learning methods,’ said paper author and psychologist Tochukwu Onwuegbusi, also of the University of Lincoln.

These, he explained, ‘are good at determining if sociocultural factors — such as media and ethnicity, and a drive for muscularity — make it more likely that men will actively want to change their bodies.’

For example, the team found that Caucasian men in the UK and Miskitu man in Nicaragua are more likely to believe that they should strive to be muscular.

Experts found that men from wealthy western countries like the UK are more motivated to workout than their Nicaraguan and Ugandan counterparts

Experts found that men from wealthy western countries like the UK are more motivated to workout than their Nicaraguan and Ugandan counterparts

WHAT IS HIGH INTENSITY INTERVAL TRAINING?

HIIT describes any workout that involves short burst of high-intensity exercise followed by a brief low-intensity activity, repeatedly.

The medium exercise should be about 50% intensity. The number of repetitions and length of each depends on the exercise, but may be as little as three repetitions with just 20 seconds of intense exercise. 

There is no specific formula to HIIT. A common method involves a 2:1 ratio of work to recovery periods, for example, 30-40 seconds of hard sprinting alternated with 15-20 seconds of jogging or walking, repeated to failure.

The entire HIIT session may last between four and 30 minutes, meaning that it is considered to be an good way to maximize a workout in a short time. 

Dr Thornborrow said that men’s motivations to gain muscle in Nicaragua may be for different reasons than the image-consciousness of their UK counterparts.

‘Non-media influenced motivations could include local ideas about masculinity, and a muscular body being a visual indicator of a working man, not a lazy man,’ she added.

‘In rural Nicaragua, many men will engage in physical work, such as farming, fishing, and construction so a muscular body is associated with being a hard-working man.’

‘This study, in particular, shows how there can be variation within groups — for example, nations or ethnic groups — and so it becomes more important to ensure any strategies or interventions are tailored to the specific cultural context.’

The full findings of the study were published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology

 



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