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Fitness Social Media Images

Researchers compare the effects of “fitspiration” photos.

Fitness Social Media

How are you using imagery in social media to promote fitness? New research suggests that if the goal is to inspire and motivate young women to exercise for fitness and health, then weight-inclusive imagery is more effective than fitspo photos.

If, on the other hand, the goal is to motivate young women to change their weight or appearance, “typical” fitness imagery on social media is effective, but please use these kinds of images thoughtfully. Study authors, who conducted two experiments with a total of over 1,000 female participants, note that typical fitness imagery with an emphasis on physical perfection may increase dysfunctional motives for exercise.

The study is published in Body Image (2022; 41, 460–71).

See also: Social Media Contributes to Body Image Pressure

Shirley Archer-Eichenberger, JD, MA

Shirley Archer, JD, MA, is an internationally acknowledged integrative health and mindfulness specialist, best-selling author of 16 fitness and wellness books translated into multiple languages and sold worldwide, award-winning health journalist, contributing editor to Fitness Journal, media spokesperson, and IDEA's 2008 Fitness Instructor of the Year. She's a 25-year industry veteran and former health and fitness educator at the Stanford Prevention Research Center, who has served on multiple industry committees and co-authored trade books and manuals for ACE, ACSM and YMCA of the USA. She has appeared on TV worldwide and was a featured trainer on America's Next Top Model.

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