“Fitspiration” describes images designed to motivate us to make healthier lifestyle choices. It usually features fit, attractive people looking like they’re having the time of their lives while exercising, eating salad, or engaging in other healthy habits. In some ways, it works. One recent study found that Fitspiration made women want to exercise more.
However, the study also found a dark side. Fitspiration images also triggered women to feel
- more body dissatisfaction,
- lower self-esteem, and
- more comparison of their appearance.
By contrast, women who instead looked at travel photos felt more inspired to travel, but did not feel worse about their bodies or appearance. Men were not tested.
The authors of the study suggested that the harm of Fitspiration may outweigh the benefits, and suggest limiting exposure.
Interestingly, research on motivation and achievement also suggests that it is counterproductive to look at photos of a “dream body” when trying to lose weight or get fit.