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How to find ‘fitness influencers’ that bring us benefits – New York Times International Weekly – International

According to some estimates, Instagram is home to around 50,000 fitness influencers. While some share helpful science-backed advice, others promote exercise advice that is wrong at best, and dangerous at worst.

In a new study, researchers found that nearly two-thirds of the 100 most popular “fitfluencers” either lacked solid advice or posted messages that could negatively affect people’s mental and physical health by, for example, promoting exercise as a tool for fitness. slim down.

“A lot of what you might call ‘fitfluencer’ content is really just ‘sliminspiration’ in disguise,” said Renee Engeln, a professor of psychology at Northwestern University in Illinois who was not involved in the research.

Previous studies have shown that exposure to images that promote a specific physique is correlated with a decrease in body satisfaction, mood, and perceived attractiveness. It has also been linked to disordered eating.

“An influencer could post a helpful tutorial on how to squat safely,” Engeln wrote via email. “But then continue with content that promotes ineffective (or even dangerous) weight loss supplements.”

So how do you find credible accounts?

Stephanie Roth-Goldberg, a clinical social worker and therapist in New York who works with athletes, suggested asking yourself: Does this fitness influencer make you feel good the way you are?

If the account leads you to body shame, he said, you should unfollow the person, because research has shown that these feelings can fuel unhealthy fitness habits and undermine the physical and psychological benefits of exercise.

If you’re a parent of teens, it’s important to guide them through the same process, according to new recommendations from the American Psychological Association. The group urges parents to train kids to question the accuracy of content on social media even before they open an account and discourage them from comparing their bodies to what they see online.

“One of the best things parents can do is sit down with their kids and open up a conversation” about social media, Roth-Goldberg said.

Find accounts that focus on what your body can do.

When we are exposed to content that encourages us to exercise to improve function, strength, and mental health, we are more likely to cultivate a healthy relationship with our bodies.

Follow accounts that focus on finding joy and confidence in the movement itself, but beware of fitfluencers who share before-and-after photos that highlight weight loss, or images, like shimmering abs or bare legs, that treat the parts. of the body as objects that need to be perfected.

Look for hashtags like #joyfulmovement, #intuitivemovement, #inclusivefitness, and #bodypositivefitness.

Look for fitfluencers that are officially accredited.

“You can’t rely on the number of likes a person has or the number of followers as an indicator of the quality of their advice,” said Cedric Bryant, president and chief scientific officer of the American Council on Exercise.

Instead, look for references to your professional training and experience, such as a master’s degree or trainer’s certificate. Beware of fitfluencers offering advice outside of their realm of expertise, Bryant said, particularly regarding diet and nutrition.

Look for influencers who feature a variety of body types, ages, and abilities. Fitness looks different on everyone, despite misconceptions about exercise and body shape and size. “Seeing a variety of body types participate in fitness activities is a key step in moving away from the stereotype that fitness is only for young, thin, and physically capable people,” Engeln said.

The more diversity of bodies our sources of physical activity present, the more we can expand our ideas about what we are capable of doing, he said, and “feel more comfortable trying new things.”

By: Danielle Friedmann

BBC-NEWS-SRC:, IMPORTING DATE: 2023-06-13 21:50:07

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