We鈥檝e seen our fair share of studies on social media by now, and many of the results are far from pleasant: Some say it negatively聽affects your mental health, while others say it鈥檚 robbing you of precious zzz鈥檚 鈥 a total bummer, to be sure, especially when you consider how ingrained it鈥檚 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 鈥淔riending Your Way Thin,鈥 social media may actually have a hand in helping us reach our health goals (and no, it doesn鈥檛 involve downloading any fitness apps, though that鈥檚 a great idea, as well).

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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聽more body weight than those that did not.

According to Lu铆s A. Nunes Amaral, the study鈥檚 senior author, 鈥淭here 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.鈥

He attributes much of these findings to accountability. 鈥淲e 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.鈥

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It makes sense, when you think about it: We鈥檝e all heard that it鈥檚 motivating to go to the gym when you have a聽pal there to cheer you on, so why would virtual reality be any different?

In fact, the study鈥檚 co-author, Bonnie Spring, suggests that online communities may even eliminate the need for professional help. 鈥淥ur 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.鈥

Well, that鈥檚 certainly good news for our waistlines 鈥 and our wallets! It serves as another example of how you can use social media for good 鈥 hey, if you can鈥檛 beat it, join it, right?

Are you surprised by this study鈥檚 findings? Tell us over @BritandCo!

(h/t Elite Daily)