Monday, June 3, 2013

Does Social Media Inspire Fitness?

The world of apps and gadgets that track our fitness progress is growing at lightning speed.  We have transitioned from a time when the most advanced ways to track our progress were with pedometers that contained a watch battery inside, to a time when the spectrum of gadgets includes everything from wristbands that track our distance, to apps that tell our friends how far we just ran.

We have all seen the friends who use apps such as Nike's that post to Facebook when they start a workout, so that we can "cheer them on" during the run, and then the app posts the completion distance and time for all the world to see.

But do these gadgets really make a difference?  And what is the impact on our fitness goals when we know that our whole network of family and friends can see the intensity level and frequency of each of our workouts?  Is it really contributing to healthier, more fit lives?

I would argue that the people who were going to work out anyway are likely the same ones who are using these tools and sharing their data with their social networks.  I don't believe that they gather a huge new population of fitness fanatics, but I do believe that they provide motivation to those who are working out to push themselves harder.  If you know that everyone will see how fast you finished that run on the treadmill, you're less likely to take a walking break in the middle or end the workout early.

The slew of new gadgets really is pretty cool, and I admittedly really want to try a couple of them out.  This CNN article provides details on 7 different fitness tools, but here are two that I am particularly eyeing:

1. Run Keeper - this app allows you to find runners that are of a similar fitness level and who live nearby.  I am just getting back into running and this would be a fun way to meet some new running buddies, if used in a safe manner!

2. Nike+ Fuel Band - this is a tracking device that is worn as a wristband and connects to an app on your phone.  It tracks your own workout progress, and also shares the information with friends.  Nike has been a leader in the fitness gadget space for a few years now, and I love the idea of not only tracking my data with a wristband (rather than something clunky to carry around!), and having the option of sharing the data.


  1. Great post Katie! I do think that Social Media can help keep people on track with their fitness goals. I know that some of my friends and I have a secret Facebook group that we use to try to motivate each other to work out. Granted, we've kind of slacked a little on using it, but we have it nonetheless. I have another friend that created an iOS app, The app helps change your eating habits by allowing you to take pictures of everything you eat and share those photos with your friends through a food journal. He lost 50 pounds using it. Another app, which my friends and I use, is myfitnesspal. It allows you to track your calories and your workouts and helps you figure out when you'll reach your goals. It also allows you to connect with your friends, so you can see if they've logged in recently or if they haven't you can send them some encouragement.

  2. Jaime, this is awesome! I also love myfitnesspal - I particularly like the fact that you can track everything you eat (and it's so easy since nearly every food/restaurant menu item is already pre-loaded as an option to select!), along with workouts. This is a good reminder to myself that I should start using it more often. I also love the idea of a private Facebook group to keep a group of friends motivated, and the app sounds super helpful too! It looks like social media really can play a big role in inspiring fitness! Thanks for your comment!