Not all followers of fitness influencers are interested in exercising more, according to study findings on YouTube influencers. Paris School of Business researchers in France examined the relationship between fitness video consumption and followers’ exercise attitudes and intentions. While social media influencers are known to affect purchasing decisions, it’s unclear whether they can positively influence health behaviors.

Researchers analyzed responses from a global sample of 306 subjects ages 15–25 and found that viewers who already had an exercise habit used the media to reinforce their motivation. By contrast, nonexercising viewers watched fitness influencers for entertainment, and, in some cases, this even reduced exercise intentions. In other words, some viewers felt vicarious goal achievement from watching others exercise and, as a result, felt less motivated to exercise themselves. Investigators also noted gender-based differences in viewing attitudes. More research is needed.

The study is available in the Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services (2021; 58 [102276]).

See also: The Instructor-or-Influencer Challenge: Social Media and Fitness Instructors