How Twitter Can Help You Lose Weight
Did you wake up early for your new spin class? Tweet about it! A new study from the University of South Carolina shows using Twitter as a support network can help people shed extra pounds.
Researchers looked at 96 obese men and women over a period of six months. In the main trial, they were divided into two groups: those who received informational podcasts about weight loss, and those who received the podcasts plus mobile apps for Twitter and tracking their nutrition and exercise along with other group members. After six months, both groups saw a 2.7 percent reduction in weight. However, when researchers looked specifically within the mobile group to examine how Twitter may have helped participants battle the bulge, they saw that every 10 posts to the social-media site resulted in a -0.5 percent weight loss. If you’re ready to lose weight, you need to pick up heavier dumbbells. Learn How to Slim Down with Strength-Training.
To put it simply: “Those who were engaged with Twitter lost more weight,” says lead researcher Brie Turner-McGrievy, Ph.D. Which makes sense, if you think about it from a social perspective. A group-based approach to weight loss can be helpful—the group provides a support network, and also helps keep everyone a bit more honest and motivated. “We were interested in finding a way to provide that group social support online during our intervention,” Turner-McGrievy says. “We chose Twitter because we wanted people to feel free to post multiple, brief messages each day, and have the choice to be anonymous.”
You can try using an online social network to keep you accountable for your health goals, too—no need to be a social media guru. Turner-McGrievy suggests the following:
Look up others tracking their own fitness journeys, and follow along. “I suggest first to search for weight loss bloggers online who also have a Twitter account,” says Turner-McGrievy. “Start by following them and then see who their users are. Follow the users you find who are similar to you.”
Don’t just watch others talk health; dive in. “Start tweeting!” Turner-McGrievy says. “Twitter is an amazing way to connect with other people who are also attempting to start an exercise, healthy-eating and weight-loss program.” Interaction is key. You want to feel like you’re in it together with other users, not like you’re alone on an island. You don’t have to feel alone during your workouts, either! Follow along with our fitness editor as you try our Pound-Melting Pilates Routine.
Update Your Status
No need to worry about making tweets witty or particularly newsworthy, Turner-McGrievy insists. “The posts to Twitter were mostly in the form of status updates, so just telling people that you went to the gym or stuck to your calorie goals for the day was helpful,” she says. “The nice thing about Twitter is it’s expected that you will post multiple times per day, and you can be fairly anonymous… Our study participants liked having the ability to be anonymous and not have to worry about a friend knowing they were trying to lose weight.” Want something to tweet about? Do the 6 moves in this Butt-Toning Workout.
While Twitter’s anonymity is certainly great if you want it, Facebook may also work, especially if you can join a weight-loss group or have real-life friends getting fit along with you. “In a current weight loss trial we are conducting among women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, we are using private Facebook groups and have had good success with those,” Turner-McGrievy says.
-Jenna Birch, Women’s Health
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