We’ve seen our fair share of studies on social media by now, and many of the results are far from pleasant: Some say it negatively affects your mental health, while others say it’s robbing you of precious zzz’s — a total bummer, to be sure, especially when you consider how ingrained it’s become in our lives. Now, a new study from Northwestern University has been released with some surprisingly positive results. According to the study, aptly dubbed “Friending Your Way Thin,” social media may actually have a hand in helping us reach our health goals (and no, it doesn’t involve downloading any fitness apps, though that’s a great idea, as well).
Researchers found that people participating in online fitness communities, such as CalorieKing, which was used as the basis for the study, were prone to lose up to three percent more body weight than those that did not.
According to Luís A. Nunes Amaral, the study’s senior author, “There is almost a Facebook-like social network system in this program where people can friend each other and build cliques. In this case, we found the larger your clique, the better your outcome.”
He attributes much of these findings to accountability. “We found that the frequency with which you report your weight is a good indicator of positive outcomes. If you monitor your weight, you are engaged. If you communicate online with other people you are even more engaged, and when you need support you might be able to get it.”
It makes sense, when you think about it: We’ve all heard that it’s motivating to go to the gym when you have a pal there to cheer you on, so why would virtual reality be any different?
In fact, the study’s co-author, Bonnie Spring, suggests that online communities may even eliminate the need for professional help. “Our findings suggest that people can do very well at losing weight with minimal professional help when they become centrally connected to others on the same weight loss journey.”
Well, that’s certainly good news for our waistlines — and our wallets! It serves as another example of how you can use social media for good — hey, if you can’t beat it, join it, right?
Are you surprised by this study’s findings? Tell us over @BritandCo!
(h/t Elite Daily)