Too much #fitinspiration… unhealthy?

Do you follow fitness personalities online? Research has found that there might be such a thing as too much #fitinspiration.

If you think that following social media fitness personalities will inspire you to get into great shape, think again.

New research from the Texas State University and the University of Arizona has found that it might not work for everyone.

An unhealthy body image

According to the study, the more exercise-related posts a person sees on social media, the more they worry about their weight. This could result in unhealthy body image.

“When people received more posts about exercise, it made them more concerned about their weight – more self-conscious – and that’s not a good thing,” says Stephen Rains, a UA communication professor and co-author of the study.

People are especially likely to feel concerned about their weight when they perceive their friends who post about physical activity as being similar to themselves, says Rains, who co-authored the study with lead author and UA alumna Tricia Burke, a professor of communication studies at Texas State University.

Social media comparison

“We thought about this from the perspective of social comparison theory, and the idea that we use others as benchmarks to figure out where we stand,” says Rains.

“Similarity heightens social comparison, so if the person posting about exercise is someone who’s in your age group, has a similar build or a similar background, you might think that’s a pretty good reference, and that might spark in you even greater weight concern.”

The good news

The news isn’t all bad, though. For certain people, friends’ exercise posts seem to have a motivating effect when it comes to attitudes about exercise.

Researchers found this to be true for people who are more likely to engage in “upward social comparisons” or look at themselves in the light of people whom they aspire to be like.

“With upward social comparisons, you tend to compare yourself to those you perceive as superior to you,” said Burke, “So, for example, if you’re in a classroom, you’d compare yourself to the smartest kid in class. In terms of exercise, if a person is posting a lot about exercise, they must be really fit, so you’re using that as a motivator.”

Source: All4Women and University of Arizona via