Social media has become a part of a college student’s environment, highlighting the importance of investigating the role that social media may play in PA participation and other health behaviors.
Purpose: To describe social media use and physical activity (PA) participation in a sample of college students and explore relationships between social media and PA, including health and fitness social media.
Methods: College students (age 18-29 years) enrolled at a four-year university completed an online questionnaire regarding self-reported social media use and PA participation. Independent sample t-tests were used to compare PA outcomes between those that follow health and fitness accounts and those who do not. A multiple linear regression model was used to examine associations between social media use and PA.
Results: Two hundred and ninety-two students completed the questionnaire (63.72% female, 63.61% white, BMI 24.14±4.25 kg/m2). There was no difference in PA participation between those that do and do not follow health and fitness social media in moderate (p=0.17) or vigorous intensity PA (p=1.0) when controlling for confounding variables. Spending 1-2 hours/day (p=0.02) or 3-4 hours/day (p=0.01) on social media compared to <1 hour/day and accessing social media in the evening (p=0.04) are associated with lower moderate PA.
Conclusions: Following health and fitness social media may not have the intended impact on college student PA. Further research needs to be done to assess the most effective and impactful strategies for content delivery via social media to increase PA behavior.