Social media and fitness: the good and the bad
Like it or loathe it, social media is now a key part of modern living. In the health and fitness industry, social media can be fairly-polarizing. If used correctly, it can be beneficial. If used incorrectly it can be hugely detrimental. Before hitting the gym, what do you do to get hyped up? Do you drink the blood of a thousand virgins? Maybe you chug down an entire tub of pre-workout with an espresso chaser (please don’t do that, you will die). The more likely scenario, is that you sit and scroll through your phone, looking at pictures and watching videos on social media based upon working out and getting in shape. Social media is useful when it comes to getting in shape, but just how useful is it?
In today’s article we’re going to be taking an impartial look at social media as we look at the pros and cons associated with social media in the fitness community.
Social media pros for bodybuilding, health, and fitness
As we’re a very optimistic bunch, we’re going to start our article off on a positive note. Social media, as mentioned in our intro, can be beneficial if used correctly, especially in terms of health and fitness. As you are statistically very likely to use at least one social media platform, it’s important to ensure that you understand how it could be useful for anybody looking to get in shape and crush their fitness goals. Here’s a look at some of the main pros of social media for health and fitness purposes:
Motivation – One of the best ways in which social media has proven its worth in health and fitness circles is thanks to the fact that it can serve as a wonderful source of motivation. Ask anybody that has ever tried to get in shape and make positive changes to their bodies what the hardest part of the process was, and for much of the time they’ll tell you that it’s staying motivated that they struggle with Social media, however, can serve as a wonderful motivational tool for people that need a metaphorical kick up the backside to get back on track. Social media is great for motivation because you can watch motivational videos designed specifically to get you hyped up for training. You can read other people’s success stories, you can watch training videos, you can read health and fitness articles, you can listen to music, and much more besides. If motivation is one of your downfalls, social media could be the solution.
Support – Another massive way in which social media can be beneficial for people looking to make healthy changes to their bodies, and indeed, their minds, is by offering people a virtual support network online. Committing to a healthy lifestyle is tough, especially if the entire process is brand-new to you. This is where having a support network can be so beneficial. For times when you’re feeling disheartened, when your motivation has dipped, or simply for times when you find yourself wondering why you’re bothering in the first place, an online support network on social media could be precisely what you need. Having an online support network means that you have 24/7 support around the clock. People on social media can offer words of encouragement and advice, they can share their own success stories, they can warn you against certain products and methods, and they can lift you psychologically when you need it the most.
Supplements – In the fitness community, particularly bodybuilding, the supplement industry is currently thriving. If used alongside a healthy diet and regular exercise regime, supplements can potentially give you the edge needed to get you that little bit closer to your goals and objectives. Finding the right supplements online, however, can be tricky. This is where social media proves useful. Social media business pages allow people to leave reviews and feedback for certain products. If you come across a supplement company online with a lot of positive reviews, this shows that they are likely very reputable and that the supplements could prove useful. On the flipside, if the company in question has a lot of negative feedback, this should set alarm bells ringing and you may wish to use another company.
Expert advice from people that care – While everybody on social media seems to believe that they’re an expert, there are some users out there that are actually experts. We aren’t talking about those Z-list celebrities endorsing dangerous slimming pills and coffee supplements that are supposed to burn fat overnight, we’re talking about real experts in the fitness biz that actually know what they’re talking about. Personal trainers often share their knowledge with their followers for free, purely to inform people on how to exercise safely. There are guys and gals on social media that genuinely do care about your health and well-being, rather than surgically-enhanced reality TV stars that wouldn’t know a macro from a dumbbell. These experts will share pictures, videos, recipes, articles, pages, and tips with their readers because they genuinely want you to better yourself and enjoy great fitness.
Social media cons for bodybuilding, health, and fitness
Now we’ll finish things off by looking at the less-desirable aspects of social media when it comes to health and fitness. The pros generally outweigh the cons by quite a margin, but it does pay to cover all bases. Here are some cons associated with social media for health and fitness purposes:
Misinformation – Sadly, social media is rife by what the media are ironically dubbing as ‘fake news’. Basically, social media allows people to share information with the click of a button, without checking the facts beforehand. People can pass opinions off as facts and sadly, some people believe things they read online which are simply not true. People for example, can claim that wrapping your body in shrink-wrap before going to bed at night will ‘melt fat away as if by magic’ when in reality it will do nothing other than leave you feeling a bit sweaty. Don’t believe everything you read on social media because it could be complete garbage.
Body image issues – Another detrimental aspect of social media for fitness purposes is the fact that it can paint a false image of what the average body should look like. If you browse social media, you’ll be forgiven for thinking that the average person is tanned, ripped, incredibly lean, and is walking around at single digit body fat percentages. If you don’t look like a fitness model, it could result in you feeling inadequate and potentially developing body image issues. Eating disorders and body dysmorphia issues are widely believed to be caused, at least in part, by social media and the unrealistic pictures it paints of how the average person is supposed to look.
Judgement – This is a biggie when it comes to social media, and it’s one that really gets under our skin. Social media, especially Instagram, has a very strong fitness presence. While the vast majority of the online fitness community are wonderful human beings, there are a few D-bags out there that ruin the experience for the rest of us. These are the guys and gals who are quite clearly insecure, yet rather than build others up, they try to tear them down. These people wake up early every day to exercise 7 days per week. They constantly eat super-healthy meals out of a Tupperware and if they do dine out, they’ll order a salad! Yuck! If they’re happy to live that way that’s fine. What isn’t fine, though, is when they try to make others feel bad for leading normal lives. If you dare to enjoy a few glasses of wine at the weekend, or a slice of dessert after your meal they make you feel like the fattest and weakest person in the world. Because you don’t live your life like a fitness model, they chastise you and make you feel bad. We could all do without that in this day and age.