Social Media is Hurting (and Helping) Your Exercise Goals

Exploring Intensity

Social Media is Hurting (and Helping) Your Exercise Goals

The University of Michigan wanted to see if it’s true that accountability is a big help when it comes to reaching your fitness goals. So they did a very simple study: using 165 obese subjects, for twelve weeks they asked them to make fitness goals, but only if they wanted. Here’s the catch: half of them got to keep their goals private while the others had to post whatever goals they had on their Facebook page.

So who reached their goals more often? Well, it’s a little more complex than that. While there were some increases by people who posted public goals, many of them chose not to post goals at all. They chose to instead not risk public failure than show they were going to attempt something. Also, on average, the increases in exercise were fairly minimal; while the public postings did help them hit their goals, they were modest and in the grand scheme didn’t amount to much.

Another upside, though, was the community: many of the public posters noted that there was a lot of support for what they were doing, with people offering to exercise with them, help them in some way or, at the very least, offered positive reinforcement. While that may not be noticeable on a 12-week study, that has to be a good mood booster overall.

But, regardless, it seems that if you’re going to try and make a change, the best way to start out is to make these goals privately. Don’t start telling people what’s rattling around in your head or you’re likely, very quickly, to have it run away from you and not come back.