Monday, May 1, 2023

How Credible Are Online Fitspiration Accounts?

Lots of fitness influencers have sprouted up especially during Covid-19. They often have photographs and videos showing you how they exercise in the latest fitness fashion attire and accessories. They are also fit-looking, tanned and toned. Popular fitness inspiration hash tags on Instagram include #fitspiration and #fitspo. They appear in more than 100 million posts.

I do not have an Instagram account but if you do, try scrolling through #fitspiration or #fitspo  and you can see lots of thin, athletic women (and men) promoting fitnessexercise and healthy lifestyles.

These 'fitspiration' accounts by health and exercise influencers usually post content to empower other individuals to pursue healthy lifestyles. 

Since so many people look to social media (such as Instagram and TikTok) for information and motivation to exercise, we need to be mindful of the content being presented. How legit are these fitness influencers?

Personally, I feel it is inspiring and easier to get motivated when someone shares his/ her inspirational photos, videos, quotes etc on fitness and health

However, research from Adelaide, South Australia (Curtis et al, 2013) found that nearly 66 percent of the top 100 influencers put up dubious fitness information. 25 percent presented hypersexualized content, nudity, as well as potentially harmful or unhealthy content. Some of these influencers also degraded others.

Many of the accounts promoted unrealistic or unhealthy body shapes with a strong focus on ultra fit, lean and slim physiques. This implies that only thin and toned bodies are considered healthy and beautiful.

A lack of reliable, credible health and fitness content on a platform like Instagram which has more than a billion users all over the world is concerning since body image and self esteem are so important.

So much focus on outward appearances can drive unhealthy reasons to exercise and diet, leading to unhealthy body image issues and concerns.

That same study (Curtis et al, 2013) from South Australia developed a reliable audit tool to help identify credible and non credible fitness and health Instagram accounts. Credible fitspiration accounts can help promote correct participation in exercise and fitness activity. 

Looking for some inspiration to exercise? Make sure you screen the influencers that you follow. You can find the evidenced based audit tool at the end of the article.


Curtis RG, Prichard I, Gosse G et al (2023). Hashtag Fitspiration: Credibility Screening And Content Analysis Of Instagram Fitness Accounts. BMC Public Health. 23,412. DOI: 10.1186/s12889-023-15232-7

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