Thinspiration, Fitspiration, Yawnspiration: What’s the deal with social media and the physical fitness fad?
This week on Life at DC, students from the Bachelor of Physical Education and Coaching (BPEC) program are sharing their ideas about health in a series of posts and a takeover on the @StudentLifeDC Instagram account!
First up, Jackie Dear is a 3rd year BPEC student who aims to work in Health Promotion in Recreation. Jackie loves the fact that we have drop in fitness classes for anyone and everyone at Douglas College every day of the week, and she hopes you’ll check them out to #DOhealthier!
Are you getting tired of seeing the people of Instagram and other social media platforms showcasing their unattainable beauty and fitness? Do you ever look at them and think, I wish I had a better body or I could look like that if I tried, had time and/or more money, then keep scrolling, and as you scroll you dismiss those passing thoughts? What’s the deal with social media and the physical fitness fad these days, anyways?!
FOREWARNING: I’m going to get science-y on you now because I believe that opinion should always be backed up by some solid facts. Yes! We all know that too much of something is never good, and that there are pros and cons to every situation. So, let’s weigh the pros and cons of what’s really going on when it comes to physical health and its relationship with social media.
Cons: “thinspiration” posts can have a negative impact. Anyone can post online and too many people are blindly following trends, thinking this has got to be the quick fix I’ve been looking for! Or if it’s working for this person, it can work for me. How do you know the claims are credible? How do you know that what they’re doing is safe? And how many times have you seen a photo of this amazingly handsome person and then there’s a quote as its caption or a song lyric? How is that going help me in any way? These pictures of unattainable bodies are sometimes causing anxiety, low self-esteem, and unhealthy dieting practices. The “thinspiration” hashtag and others similar to it are bringing individuals together in online spaces so that they can share their unhealthy ideas about healthy lifestyles.
But what are the pros? Well, social media has many benefits. It allows us to share ideas quickly, network, reach a variety of audiences, and encourage healthy decision-making. Social media platforms can provide resources and guidance on a daily basis as you tackle your own physical fitness goals. Although some people experience some body dissatisfaction when they browse social media platforms, for the majority, social media is a tool for connecting with friends and sharing ideas within communities. Research shows that if a person has a personal connection to the post that they are viewing (for example, if it is posted by a friend rather than a celebrity), it is more likely to have a positive influence on their behaviour. Did you know that you have a lot of influence over your friends’ health? Your attitude, eating habits, and even your work-out habits rub off on those around you. By “DOing” something a little healthier around campus, you can influence not only your own physical health but your friends’ health too!
So, what can you do about your own physical health now that you know a little bit more about the power of social media? Here are 3 suggestions:
1. Use social media to stay connected with people that you know and give and get support for your goals. Social media used in the right way (which means prioritizing personal connection and following reliable sources) can help you achieve goals. So, make sure that you have a personal connection to the people you follow, and verify the information you are absorbing about health before you follow the trends! You’re less likely to feel bad about yourself if you are positively supporting and encouraging those around you to be the best they can be, and you’ll be on the right track if you make sure that you are making decisions based on accurate information.
2. Follow accounts that have a balanced outlook and offer accurate information. There are lots of awesome resources online but let’s be smart about what we see and think critically about the accounts that we follow. For “fitspiration” follow accounts that are official or trustworthy, a couple of my favourites are @eatlifebalance and @15x15workout.
3. Use social media to help monitor your daily progress, log your activity, set goals, and keep yourself and those around you accountable. There are some great apps out there that can help you do this, just do a quick search of your favourite app store.
What’s stopping you, anyways? Not enough time, energy, too expensive? These are valid points, and Deepti covered them in the Life at DC Work it Out post! Don’t forget about all of the Get Healthy resources within your reach here at Douglas College.
We want to hear from you! What do you think, how does social media affect your health? How can we use social media to get healthier? Let’s start the conversation! Check out our Instagram account @StudentLifeDC to learn more about what’s going on this week, and be sure to follow our hashtag #DOHealthier to see our healthy tips and follow our challenges.
Speaking of challenges! What’s your favourite resource to #DOHealthier on campus at Douglas College?