How social media can offer extra motivation to exercise

How social media can offer extra motivation to exercise

Some days it’s just hard to motivate yourself to head to the gym, especially when heading there alone. If you don’t have a workout partner, consider finding virtual support by joining a social network aimed at fitness and nutrition.

Those involved in a social media network were highly motivated by their peers to exercise more, according to a new study. Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania looked at how social media can serve as a motivational tool to encourage more physical activity.

Throughout the 13-week study, anonymous members participated in an online group where they updated each other on their fitness achievements and monitored one another’s progress. As the study progressed, the motivational benefits of the “buddy system” led to members enrolling in new fitness classes and creating a broader social network of like-minded exercise enthusiasts.

Researchers said simply knowing that your peers are going to yoga class is effective motivation to get you into your workout clothes.

“We were able to use the positive signals to form a reinforcing loop that pushed everyone to exercise more,” study author Jingwen Zhang said in a news release.

Currently, there are a variety of social networks online that provide exercise routines, fitness tips, nutritious recipes and the ability to track your progress. Through the online community, members interact with one another as they all work toward a common goal.

Colleen Eggers, coordinator of land-based programs at Good Samaritan Hospital’s Health and Wellness Center in Downers Grove, Ill., says people are often looking for a group setting when it comes to exercise.

“A fitness community, whether in person or online, is essential to meeting your goals,” she says. “As a group you can motivate one another, find solutions to pitfalls and ultimately be held accountable. At the end of the day, it’s nice to know that you aren’t in this alone and that you are surrounded by people who have been in your shoes at one time or another.”

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About the Author

Johnna Kelly
Johnna Kelly

Johnna Kelly, healthe news contributor, is a manager of public affairs and marketing at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn. She is a former newspaper reporter and spent nearly 10 years as a public relations professional working for state and county government. During her time as a communications staffer for the Illinois General Assembly, she was integral in drafting and passing legislation creating Andrea's Law, the nation's first murderer registry. In her spare time, she volunteers at a local homeless shelter, enjoys traveling, photography and watching the Chicago Bulls.