“Our results were mixed. Good can come out of this, in the sense that it can make some people more interested in exercising and feel better about exercising, but it might make other people feel worse about themselves if they are more concerned with their weight,” said co-author of the study Stephen Rains, Associate Professor at the University of Arizona, US.
Participants then chose three of their social media connections who made the most exercise-related posts and rated their perceived similarity to each of those individuals. They also completed questionnaires that measured their level of concern about their weight, their general attitudes about exercise, and their tendency to make either upward or downward social comparisons. The mixed findings suggest that social media’s impact on health is indeed real, if nuanced, and deserves additional attention, the researchers noted.