The hashtag #Fitspo is often seen on Instagram posts touting exercise, healthy
living and clean food. It’s popular among celebrities, athletes, lifestyle gurus
and people who are marketing their particular brand of ‘good for you’ products
and services. The images that accompany #Fitspo are, as one might expect, of fit
and healthy people doing fit and healthy things.
The question is; is this really inspirational or does it sabotage the average
person as they work towards their own health goals? It seems as if the results
are decidedly mixed.
Health related social content can impact viewers’ dispositions about weight #
One study has shown that people who were exposed to fitness related social media
content were increasingly concerned with their own weight. This concern was
aggravated when subjects were exposed to posts of people they perceived to be
fitter than they were. According to Dr Anand Thakkar, Chief MD at Chicago Weight
Loss Clinic, “more staggering was the fact that this effect was seen even when
the nature of the fitness related posts were positive and encouraged healthy
lifestyles. If it is well managed, this could be the motivation for viewers of
such post to adopt healthier lifestyle choices when it comes to weight and
Interestingly enough, this happened less frequently when the viewer perceived
the poster as being at a higher fitness level than themselves. Instead, it was
more likely for negative thoughts to occur among people who saw themselves at a
similar fitness level to the individual making the fitness related post.
Most people have at least one friend who shares that fitness-related content on
social media. They may check into the gym, share details of their latest run, Or
use fitness-related apps and wearables to share their workout accomplishments.
As it turns out, this can have an immediate inspirational effect on others.
Surprisingly, this seems to impact men more than women. Then we’re also
motivated by both men and women while women were largely only motivated by other
This type of sharing on social media also brings out the competitive nature
among people. however, people seeking this type of inspiration should consider
looking towards people with similar Fitness levels. This is where the
inspiration seems to be the most powerful.
Of course inspiration and motivation only represent part of the role that
social-media plays in health and fitness. It has also become a source of
information and education related to all-things wellness and fitness: more than
40% of users indicate that information found on social media affects the way
they approach their health.
Social media users are increasingly relying on fitness influencers and brands
and the information they provide. For example, Dr. John Jaquish, the inventor of
, runs a lot of educational content on his personal and
company accounts. He says, “There is a lot more mis-information in fitness on
social media and even in articles, than scientifically validated information. We
are trying to present real research and couple that with common sense
explanations and advice that can be applied directly to your workout and it’s
helping people achieve massive fitness transformations.”
Additionally, being part of social media fitness groups encourages more people
to finally take action and start participating in certain health activities –
joining a running club, signing up for a yoga class and so on. Social fitness
applications further amplify that desire to participate and perform three
important roles according to Prof. BJ Fogg: “they motivate people, the various
interactions act as triggers for action; and sharing information and tips can
Not all users know how to discern what is good information and what isn’t #
It’s clear that diet and fitness related posts on social media have an impact.
They can motivate people to change behaviors and purchase products.
Unfortunately, much of the advice is problematic. Nutritionists are concerned
with The fact that so much dietary advice shared on social media is conflicting.
This can do to make people to adopt dietary plans that are overly restrictive
and otherwise unhealthy.
It doesn’t help matters that many of the people who have positioned themselves
as being fitness influencers aren’t necessarily qualified to provide wellness
advice. Instead, their posts may be motivated by a desire to promote certain
products or simply to further their personal brands. Then there’s the fact that
so many fitness-related influencers have access to resources that the average
person does not. This can skew expectations in terms of results.
As it turns out, fitness inspiration posts can have a positive impact on social
media audiences. They can stir up a competitive nature and motivate people to
increase their efforts during their workouts. On the other hand there are some
concerning factors as well. These pills can lead to unhealthy thoughts about
weight and there’s will concern about the spread of misinformation. It’s
important that people seeking advice and inspiration find sources that are
reliable and can be counted on to share accurate information.