Can #Fitspo even be categorised under a healthy hashtag?

Remember the days when being healthy meant eating right and exercising? These days we have intermittent fasting, thigh gaps, fat burners and extreme hit training.  It becomes a complicated procedure knowing what works for your body to keep it physically in shape without mentally burning out.

Researchers have found that the #Fitspiration philosophy is flawed, making many women feel worse about themselves and their bodies rather than motivating them to exercise. Flinders University researchers have found that regardless of the positive aims and popularity of social media, influencers and the loose term of #fitspiration representing women being active in fitness and exercise programs is in fact doing the opposite effect. The study of more than 100 women aged 17–25 years found that seeing #fitspiration images increased negative mood and body dissatisfaction among women, and that exposure to #fitspiration images did not lead to more exercise behaviour.

“When considering actual exercise behaviour, there appears to be no beneficial effect,” says Dr Ivanka Prichard, who is Co-Deputy Director of the SHAPE Research Centre (Sport, Health, Activity, Performance and Exercise) at Flinders University, and a member of the Caring Futures Institute at Flinders University.

“Despite their positive intentions and popularity, #fitspiration images are yet another way to make women feel worse about themselves and their bodies.” “Close to 90% of young Australians use some form of social media, such as Facebook, Instagram, YouTube or Snap-Chat. Young women’s rapidly growing use of image-based platforms such as Instagram is of concern, given what we know about the impact of idealised imagery on body image.”

“One of the most consistent and influential forces on young women’s body image is the media’s depiction of idealised and often unobtainable body types such as a thin and fit ideal.” Being exposed to #fitspiration images led to a suggestively higher negative mood when compared to the same women being exposed to travel inspiration images.

“These findings provide further evidence highlighting fitspiration and aspiring to a thin and fit ideal as a potentially harmful online trend. We now need more research to examine aspects of fitspiration, such as focusing on body functionality and body diversity, that might promote positive body image,” says Dr Prichard.

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