I can’t count how many hours I have wasted on social media. From Facebook to Twitter, I find myself reading news feeds and looking at a lot of unnecessary information. I feel like it makes us all even more sedentary. But I found a little nugget of good news in regards to our health and social media.
In a new study published in the journal Preventive Medicine Reports, researchers found a way to make social media improve exercise habits: a program-assigned “health buddy.”
In a randomized controlled trial, researchers created a website in which 217 graduate students enrolled in free exercise classes at the University of Pennsylvania gym. They separated the group into two:
1. The first group received promotional messages that included motivational videos and infographics with fitness tips.
2. The second group saw no messages. This group was placed in a social network with six others. Participants then updated each other on their exercise achievements and could monitor each other’s progress on the website, making them feel more accountable. Also, when a member signed up for a new fitness class, everyone received an email telling them about it.
The test lasted 13 weeks and the results were obvious:
1. The first group receiving the promotional messages bumped up class participation initially, but then it quickly fizzled. The advertising messages had no effect on keeping students in the class for the long run.
2. The second group were more effective at motivating each other to exercise. Enrollment levels grew.
What does that mean to you?
As a runner, especially if facing burn out or lack of motivation, finding like-minded partners may help you get off the couch and lace up your shoes. You can start your own Facebook group for free and post every day what you ran and receive emails of what other people are doing to keep you inspired.