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Social media can ‘make it easier to exercise’

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While we are all aware of the health benefits of exercise, for some of us, it can be a chore.

But to help combat this, researchers from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) have now tested how social media can motivate people to hit the gym.

For the study, they recruited 500 participants with varying training levels and randomly split them into two groups. One group was asked to follow an Instagram account called #dinmotivation, which offered up motivational posts every three days over four weeks. 

After the study, the participants were asked about their exercise motivation and enjoyment, with the researchers reporting that those who followed the Instagram updates enjoyed their sessions much more than the ones who didn’t.

“It’s interesting how some exercise apps promise exercise enjoyment and motivation without having any clear theories for how they want to achieve that,” said first author and clinical psychologist Silje Berg. “Now, our study has shown that theoretical content can have a positive effect, so we should encourage more people in this market to become knowledge-based.”

And though some experts remain concerned about the impact fitness influencers with “perfect” bodies may have on the younger generation, the researchers think there is space for new exercise apps that emphasise passion and self-determination.

Going to the gym to do a routine workout is not the only way to stay in shape. From dancing to taking the stairs, try these useful and healthy alternatives to keep fit.

This is a suggestive guide. Readers are advised to seek the help of a qualified health professional regarding any questions concerning their health or a medical condition.

“We want to show how the influence of social media can be positive and used to promote public health – rather than the opposite. It can also inform how we should be critical of the source regarding content that appears in our feed. Awareness is key for achieving the positive effect we want,” she stated, while Professor Frode Stenseng added: “Watching influencers is probably more like watching TV.”

Full study results have been published in Frontiers in Psychology.

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