Do you even instagram, bro?

© Dreamstime.com Social media for fitnessAs it turns out, social media (SM) is rather ideal for spreading awareness about a fit and healthy lifestyle. Facebook is the perfect place to brag about your latest run (including a map of your route). You can show off a yoga pose you’ve finally mastered or post a pic of your new workout outfit on Instagram, maybe post a Vine video showing a tricky free weight lift or show off your abs on Pinterest.

How Social Networking Can Boost Your Workout

Fitspo (fitness inspiration) image from Pinterest

Fitspo (fitness inspiration) image from Pinterest

But we weekend (and weekday) warriors aren’t the only ones who have bought into the hype of social media. Health and fitness professionals from around the world have commandeered platforms such as Instagram, YouTube and Facebook to share their wisdom as well as make a few bucks. Using social media to drive customers to a website with all of the bells and whistles has allowed the pros to monetize their expertise without even leaving their home gym.

Exercising Social Media Influence in the Fitness Industry

No Heavy Lifting Required, Just Open Your Browser

For a reasonable monthly membership fee, usually around $20 or less (many are free), you can join a group of like-minded folks who share the same interests and goals. For example, check out these popular apps/websites:

Strava mobile app

Strava mobile app

  • Fitocracy Allows users to ‘follow’ other users, view and comment on their workouts and join groups for specific interests.
  • Daily Mile Find training partners, share photos, local events, and routes.
  • Strava Lets you track your running and bike riding with GPS, join Challenges, share photos from your activities, and follow friends.

The beauty of social media is that we can all have access to experts all over the world as now anyone can have a social media presence. The detriment to social media is, once again, anyone can have a social media presence (like me, for example). Just because someone has a social media presence, it does not mean that they are an expert in the field. Most reputable online health and fitness bloggers will disclaim if they are not professionals. However, many do have various personal training certifications through associations such as NASM, ACE, or ACSM, while others are Registered Dieticians (RD), or have degrees in exercise science or physical therapy. If someone has been on social media for a few years and has thousands of followers, they are probably legit, as the SM world can sniff out fakes quickly and mercilessly.

Accountability, motivation, advice. It’s all about sharing.

I think we have only seen the beginning of social’s media’s influence on fitness, health and nutrition. The obesity epidemic and societal pressure will drive more and more of us to seek advice and support on our personal journeys to wellness, and if there is money to be made, you can be sure that there will be no shortage of apps and websites for peer-to-peer interaction. The public health system has certainly taken notice, as the online forum has supplanted the in-person support group in many instances, and researchers are diligently trying to measure the effects of social media on health behaviors.

Do you belong to a workout or nutrition forum or used online training? Has it helped you reach your goals?

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My Favorite Apps to Support Healthy Living

dreamstime_s_49076988If any of you are like me, you enjoy a little camaraderie when it comes to working on a healthy eating or fitness program. Studies have shown that social media is a great way for people to receive informational and social support when dieting. Three of my favorite apps that help promote fitness and a healthy diet, and allow you to share with other like-minded folks are FitBit, MyFitnessPal and YouFood. All 3 are available for IOS and Android mobile phones.

Best Fitness Trackers 2015

Badges you can earn using the FitBit app

Badges you can earn using the FitBit app

FitBit activity “trackers” are wireless-enabled devices worn on the wrist that measure data such as the number of steps walked, quality of sleep, steps climbed, along with other activities. What makes the accompanying app fun is the ability to connect with other friends that also use the device, following along with their daily step count. You can also compete with your friends in a FitBit Challenge, earn badges, and send either a “cheer”, a “taunt” or a text-like message to your buddies. The FitBit mobile app syncs wirelessly with your device using Bluetooth. The most recently added feature to the app is called Exercise Sharing where you can take a selfie using your phone’s camera when you add an exercise to your day’s activities. The image can be shared with your friends on the social network of your choice.

fitbit

MyFItnessPal food diary sample entry

I’m a firm believer in calories in, calories out, so I think it is important to check on the total calories I typically eat in a day on a regular basis. MyFitnessPal was first launched in 2005 and has been improving every since.

MyFitnessPal makes it very simple to add your favorite foods in order to total up the day’s calories as well as other important macros like carbs, fat and protein. You are invited to add your own foods and calorie/macro counts. Other users can confirm that your food stats are accurate and verify your entry. Not only can you track your daily eats and exercise, but you can also share your logs with friends and followers, which, for some of us, helps provide encouragement and accountability.

Another popular feature of MyFitnessPal is the ability to link it to your FitBit account, if you have one, and easily see how many calories you are allowed and have burned on your FitBit mobile app.

The 5 Best Calorie Counter Websites and Apps

A delicious salad shared on YouFood

A delicious salad shared on YouFood

A more recent addition to the healthy app scene is YouFood, previously known as TwoGrand. Imagine Instagram filled only with pictures of delicious, usually healthy, food. You can upload pics of your favorite meals, follow other users, read their recipes and ingredients and add your own recipes, comment, follow a variety of topics, and save your favorite photos to your “fridge.” It’s a lot of fun to peruse the photos, but beware…I guarantee the app will make you hungry.

All, or any of these 3 great apps in combination, can help you reach your health and fitness goals. Plus, it is a lot of fun to share info with your current pals and make new connections as well.

What are your favorite healthy living apps?

Do you enjoy social support when dieting or undertaking a new exercise program?

Leave a comment.