Tuesday, 23rd August 2016

“Fitness and your phone – How social media is getting us moving”

It’s 11am and I’m looking at my step-o-meter. 1,500 steps. By my calculations, unless I go to the gym, or for a walk, I’m not going to reach my daily 10,000 step target. Time for a quick energy snack, a change of clothes and a quick scroll through my Instagram feed to get that inspirational video to really get me in the mood. A quick click on #InstaFitness and I’m overwhelmed by millions of self-proclaimed fitness gurus, all giving advice on how to do the perfect bench press or show me the latest ab workout. Maybe I’ll lay off the fast food tonight and cook a healthy dinner instead. I mean, that’s what they’d do right?

My experience is just one of the ways in which social media has affected how we exercise. A 10,000 step target is probably quite reasonable if your job means you’re on your feet a lot, but for the large proportion of us who sit at a desk for more than seven hours a day, that many steps can suddenly seem quite daunting. In fact, a recent study has shown that “sitting is the new smoking” (Dr. James Levine 2014), and when you factor in an average of seven hours sleep a day, only a third of our time is spent on our feet.

Something clearly had to be done. Enter the fitness ‘celebrities’. The days of David Beckham on the cover of Men’s Health are numbered. Today it’s all about social media. All you need is a six pack and a phone and you’ve got yourself a fitness blog. It is proven that the most successful Instagram fitness accounts, with 20,000+ followers, can earn extremely lucrative merchandise deals. These self-proclaimed fitness gurus are the latest things to sweep our newsfeed and we’re loving them.

These exercise stars are direct to our phone, targeted to our fitness requirements and most importantly…free! We are all getting our daily fix of workout inspiration, new fun exercises and they are inspiring us to get off the couch and on our feet, one follow at a time. Social media is getting the world moving and in a drastic way. So it is no surprise that companies are eager to jump on the bandwagon and get their slice of the gluten-lactose-sugar-free fitness pie.

Social media has to be applauded for making fitness fun and shareable. There is a wealth of equipment  available to help us including tracking watches, Apps and headphones. The aim is to bring fitness to everyday people who might not have the resources to join a gym and there are countless examples of group exercises available to all; even couple’s yoga is proving popular on YouTube.

There are hundreds of inexpensive ways to get fit which are demonstrated through social media, and not only will this improve your body image, it’ll enhance your professional career as well. Science has revealed that regular exercise helps to relieve stress, sustain energy throughout the day and boost productivity. Not only this, but an active individual is typically more likely to take on a leadership role and reach their targets due to a healthy lifestyle. Social media is not only affecting people physically, it’s affecting them mentally and in the workplace and that’s where the gains will really be made.

Just beware, it’s easy to get sucked into the ‘body beautiful’ trap with every new celebrity Instagram post leaving you thinking you have a mountain to climb to reach this completely unrealistic, filtered and airbrushed ‘norm.’ Know that every morning you get out of bed and take that first step, and make the first healthy food choice, you are doing something great for your body and mind and this will make all the difference to reaching your personal health and fitness goals.

The platforms themselves are responsible for raising the awareness of fitness and bringing health to our news feeds. It’s this free and easily available content which is getting us moving and on this basis, I think the days of the traditional personal trainer could well be numbered.

Alastair McKenzie-Smith

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