A Publication of WTVP

Though experts tell us exercise will improve our fitness level, overall health, and functionality, what most people desire from an exercise program is an improvement to their physical appearance and attractiveness.

Beauty is a value we pursue just like many other values in our life. The rarer something is, the higher we tend to value it. Water is certainly more beneficial to human life than diamonds, but in the modern world, water is very abundant and, thus, quite cheap. Diamonds-though not beneficial to human life-are rare and, thus, valued highly. This explains why we might admire characteristics such as height, long legs, broad shoulders, and a thin waist found in supermodels. All of these characteristics aren't biologically beneficial and don't support survival or reproduction. However, because of the rarity of these characteristics, many find them irresistible.

People who market products know how to manipulate our desires based on rarity. The implication behind advertisers' strategies is that you too can look like this person if you buy their product or use their techniques. Models for most infomercials possess a level of body fat that can only be achieved by about one out of a million people. The fact that we fail to understand this truth is the driving force behind the majority of women's and men's magazines and the exercise, food supplement, and sporting goods industries.

When people give in to the ploys of advertisers and repeatedly fail, they go from disappointment to despair. Those of modest muscular potential who try to develop bodybuilder physiques end up over-training, become smaller, and give up. Because advertisers have been so successful in selling us empty dreams, our society has become more despondent and out of shape than ever before.

The good news is you can, to a large extent, impact the biological aspects of beauty through proper exercise. There are only three things that control your body shape, and you can control two of those three variables: your skeleton, your muscle, and your body fat. Your skeleton is simply the scaffolding on which everything hangs; its shape is determined by genetics and can't be altered. Every desirable shape of the human body is accounted for by underlying muscle; every undesirable shape is accounted for by underlying body fat. The degree to which you can increase your muscle and decrease your body fat is the degree to which you can improve your physical attractiveness-but it's also genetically modulated.

Understanding the truth about our genetic limitations gives us realistic expectations. Reaching our best potential can be achieved by the application of consistent hard work over a prolonged period of time. The key is to strive for the best you possibly can-not to aim for the appearance of someone else you admire. IBI