Recently, the first few academic studies on fitspo have been released ― and the insights have been alarming: One 2015 study from South Australia’s Flinders University asked 130 female college students to look at either fitspo or travel pics and rate their feelings before and after. “Viewing fitspiration produced worse mood and body satisfaction,” says the study’s lead author, Marika Tiggemann, Ph.D. “The pictures are all of thin and toned women; normal women can’t usually get there, and that might make them feel bad about their own bodies.” Samantha DeCaro, assistant clinical director at the Renfrew Center of Philadelphia, a top eating disorder clinic, says she sees many patients who seek out fitspo: “The original intention may have been to emphasize being healthy and strong, but the definitions of ‘healthy’ and ‘strong’ are so varied.”
Because exercise as punishment is kind of a bummer
But what if there was fitspo that didn’t try to convince you to exercise by making you feel bad about yourself when you don’t work out (or better than other people when you do)?
What kind of images and messages do you find inspirational?