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A Scientific Study: Are Fit People More Attractive?

Staying fit has lots of health benefits, but did you know fit people are considered more attractive too?

By Luke FitzpatrickPublished 4 years ago 3 min read

Even without scientific studies as proof, most of us are not surprised to learn women are attracted to fit men and men are attracted to fit women, but new research from the University of Zurich in Switzerland has confirmed it.

In the study, author Erik Postma examines the relationship between facial attractiveness and athletic performance. The study participants rated 80 pro riders of the 2012 Tour de France. Results from the 800 respondents rated the top 10% of cyclists as better looking than the bottom 10%.

Similarly, in a Personality and Individual Differences study, women rated a group of National Football League quarterbacks on their perceived handsomeness. The top-performing quarterbacks ranked highest.


Many men admit to heading to the gym to improve their attractiveness to the opposite sex, and these studies seem to confirm it’s a good move. Part of that attractiveness is rooted in the confidence they exude when naked in front of women and the respect they receive from other men.

A strong, muscled body is an indicator of the pride one takes in their body. It is a sign of discipline, hygiene, and work ethic, which make up the overall character perceived by others.

Muscle mass is associated with strength and considered a strong indicator of masculinity. Women naturally view strength as a source of security and are attracted to it, whereas other men view strength as a sign of authority.

When men lift weights, the width of the shoulders widens because working out increases the muscle in the deltoid and upper back regions. Exercises that focus on the body’s core, reduce the circumference of their waists and hips decrease along with their body fat percentage affecting the shoulder-to-hip ratio. Men with a high shoulder-to-hip ratio reported having more sex and sex at an earlier age. The STH ratio is visible even when men are clothed.


Contrary to earlier theories suggesting people are attracted to fatter body types because they could survive a famine, a study by the University of Aberdeen, found evolutionary fitness drives men to be naturally attracted to thinner, taller women. Men associate these body types with health, youth, fertility, and a lower risk of disease.

Coordinated by John Speakman, the scientists built a mathematical model to combine and compare the relationships between obesity levels, life expectancy, and fertility. Factoring age into the model, the optimum BMI range fell to between 17 and 20, despite the lower numbers occurring in the underweight category of BMI classifications. The numbers correlated precisely to images people identified as the most attractive.

To test the researchers’ predictions, 1,300 of males and females from the 60,000 study participants reordered 21 cards representing various fat levels in women. In order from least to most attractive, both males and females rated physical attractiveness the same and determined that tall and slender is more attractive than curvy and hourglass-shaped. The 60 lowest-rated body shapes were typically the fattest, shortest, and roundest of the computer-generated images.


Happiness affects one’s health and relationships and is the most attractive feature, say some. Fit people derive enjoyment from the results of their efforts to gain and maintain a healthy body. This pride and pleasure are evident in not just how they perceive themselves but how they are perceived. It is also apparent in how they treat others; they are typically more kind and more often seek the best in others.

A healthy brain and body

Though exercise is visibly great for the body, it’s just as good for the brain. Over the last several decades, research has identified a link between exercise and cognition. Most studies agree exercise improves one’s mood by fundamentally changing the brain. As the heart rate increases, the body pumps more oxygen to the brain, and the process positively affects a person overall. These well-oxygenated brains are better at managing or alleviating anxiety and depression.

What’s more, after 20 to 30 minutes of aerobic exercise, the body releases endorphins, and these interact with brain receptors to reduce one’s perception of pain. Endorphins make people feel positive and upbeat during a challenging workout. Other mood-enhancing chemicals, such as serotonin and dopamine, can affect the brain for hours after exercising.

With so much going for them, it’s no wonder fit people are more attractive. After all, who among us doesn’t want pride in appearance, confidence, a healthy body, and happiness? It is within our reach. Start a new exercise commitment today and see for yourself what a positive experience it can be.

fact or fiction

About the Creator

Luke Fitzpatrick

Luke Fitzpatrick has been published in Forbes, The Next Web, and Influencive. He is a guest lecturer at the University of Sydney, lecturing in Cross-Cultural Management and the Pre-MBA Program. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

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    Luke FitzpatrickWritten by Luke Fitzpatrick

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