Why exercise? Health trumps beauty, poll shows

Mon Jul 27, 2009 6:00am EDT
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By Dorene Internicola

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - If you look upon fitness addicts as shallow narcissists suffering grimly for the body beautiful, it may be time to look again.

Most dedicated exercisers view working out as their apple a day, not their path to preening perfection, a new poll shows.

Staying healthy is the reason most fit adults gave for hitting the gym, and they are doing it for the ones they love.

Even a belt-tightening economy has not led the active to skimp on their regimens, according to the survey.

"People said they exercise more for health than for anything else," said Marjorie Martin of EveryDay Health, which conducted the poll with the American Council on Fitness.

Martin said 54 percent of the 2,882 Americans who responded to the online poll said they want to stay fit for their loved ones. Only 40 percent said they work out to look good on beach.

"Some of us probably would have guessed appearance and weight control first," Martin said. "The fact that it is health was I think very reassuring,"

More than 90 percent of the people who took part in the survey by EverydayHealth, a network of health and fitness websites, were women. The average age was 44.   Continued...

<p>Clients work out on machines at the Bally Total Fitness facility in Arvada, Colorado June 15, 2009. REUTERS/Rick Wilking</p>