Social networking sites can make you fit and lose weight, says a new study. According to researchers, social media can motivate people to exercise and shed extra weight. It is to be noticed that the previous studies have suggested that people spending extra time on the web or social media tend to gain extra weight due to reduced outdoor activities.
Lead study author Professor Damon Centola from the University of Pennsylvania said that motivation is a key factor in the workout program and social media acts as a motivator and helps in improving people’s exercise habits. It is also a cheaper method for making people hit the gym when compared to other promotional health advertisements.
For the study, researchers created a website in which 217 students participated and enrolled free exercise classes in the gym of University of Pennsylvania. Researchers divided the students in two groups. Students in the first group were given promotional health messages like watch motivational videos, fitness manual, tips and importance of fitness and exercise.
While the second group received no such extra promotional messages and tips on fitness. However, people in the second group were given access to social media where they could share their status and pics with other friends. They were able to see the fitness levels of other friends and were notified of any friend joining yoga classes or gym, etc.
After 13 weeks, researchers found that promotional messages did motivated students initially and number of students involved in fitness classed got a bump at the start, but the effect soon wore off. While social media had long term effect on the mind of students in fitness classes and slowly and steadily their fitness increased.
“Health buddies, on the other hand, were much more effective at motivating people to exercise,” Centola noted.
“We were able to use the positive signals to form a reinforcing loop that pushed everyone to exercise more,” added Jingwen Zhang, an author on the study.
This one of the first study of its kind that links social media with fitness. The study can help in promoting vaccines, medication and preventive care online. However, more research is required to confirm the findings.
The study appeared in the journal Preventive Medicine Reports.