You're so vain, you probably think this "article" is about you!

Norwich Union Healthcare's 'Mr Vain' study, which surveyed over 500 men, suggests that a third of men hate their stomachs, 20% are unhappy with their legs and a quarter admit they have issues with their entire body.

Aspiring to the male celebrity physique appears to be fuelling this new trend. The research found that England captain David Beckham has the body most men aspire to, followed by Brad Pitt and Welsh rugby hero Gavin Henson.

But it's not just celebrities who are influencing the way British men feel about their bodies - a quarter of men (26%) admit their partner puts pressure on them to work out and keep their bodies in shape.

Health and fitness expert Dean Hodgkin said: "Men's attitudes to their bodies are changing. They have always focused on building muscles but other trends are beginning to emerge. Now it seems men exercise because they're keen to lose weight (14%) or feel guilty about over-indulging (32%), and it could be affecting their overall health and fitness."

The pressure to look good is even leading men to fool themselves and others about their levels of fitness. The study found that a quarter of men lie to partners and mates about how often they exercise or go to the gym, while over a third (36%) exaggerate how much they can lift and one in five lie about their weight.

Dean Hodgkin continued: "By putting pressure on themselves and being unrealistic about their fitness levels, men could be doing themselves more harm than good when exercising and working out. Men need to understand that it's all about being in tune with your own body, not comparing yourself with others or trying to look like somebody else."

Dean Hodgkin advises men not to focus on their looks but on their health as a whole. They should seek advice from health and fitness experts on how to achieve a healthy lifestyle and therefore feel more confident about their bodies.

With this in mind, Dean has developed some top tips:

  • Don't be too self-critical - it's good to be realistic about your body but don't get too obsessive about your looks.
  • Don't compare yourself with others - you need to be in tune with your own body if you want to feel good about yourself
  • Consult a fitness instructor about developing a health and fitness programme tailored to your body and your needs
  • Remember, there's nothing like a bit of cardiovascular exercise to release endorphins, the 'happy hormones', and give you a confidence and mood boost
  • Become your own personal trainer and health advisor by using Norwich Union Healthcare's Personal Health Manager and developing a realistic action plan to improve your health and wellbeing

Norwich Union Healthcare's Personal Health Manager is a unique online resource offering a variety of services including advice on lifestyle, health and exercise, a health planner and a 24-hour helpline.

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