There’s no denying the fact that social media like Facebook and Twitter have become increasingly more important resources in our lives for information about friends and family, our favorite celebrities and sports teams, or even certain breaking news stories (I’m not afraid to admit that I first learned the Zimmerman trial verdict via Twitter). Sharing anything and everything – from photos, to game scores, to political sentiments – has become a commonplace practice for people all across the globe. But have social networks earned a place in our personal health and fitness?
Using social media outlets as a way to track and share fitness activity is emerging as an increasingly widespread practice. Fitness tracking devices like the Nike+ FuelBand and the soon-to-be released Amiigo allow users to post recorded workouts to Facebook and other sites as a way of comparing and competing with friends.
Facebook has recently even gone so far as to release an infographic that lists the nation’s fittest cities according to the number of fitness-related posts, check-ins, and app uses. The illustration also depicts which cities have the highest rates of specific activities like cycling, marathon running, dance, and even CrossFit (again, according to Facebook data).
The relationship between social media and fitness is a complicated one. While on the one hand a somewhat competitive environment may push you to endure an intense CrossFit session, and the support that your network of friends may give you after you complete your first 5K may encourage you just enough to sign up for another one. But on the other hand, there’s also the looming possibility that the concept of working out to impress others may begin to come to fruition. The balance between sharing your accomplishments across social media to keep you motivated versus solely for bragging rights is a tough one to maintain.
In my opinion, unfortunately the best way to sum up the connection between social media and fitness is in a typically ambiguous cliché: it depends. If you are the type of person who is driven to greatness by the competitive forces that surround you, then hearing about others’ fitness achievements can only motivate you to do even greater things. If, on the other hand, seeing the successes of others leaves you dwelling on your shortcomings, then incorporating social media into your fitness routine is probably not a good way to stay on track.
What’s your take on social media and fitness? Do you support it?