Lifesum poll reveals what motivates us to lead healthier lives and the true effect of social media vanity

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We know that our 8 million users all have different reasons for using Lifesum to help achieve their health and fitness goals, and that the things that motivate them are varied and often highly personal. Because of this, we wanted to understand what factors make people change their lives for the better: is it the opinions of friends or celebrities, pictures on social media or just a personal desire to feel generally healthier that causes us to change our ways?

So in Jan 2015, we asked Lifesum users from across the UK to give us an insight into what inspires them, and the results were fascinating. The full questions (and results) are posted below, but the conclusions that we think are most interesting are as follows:

  • When it comes to social media, nostalgic #throwbackthursday –style photos showing a person looking younger and fitter are driving a whole wave of people to get healthier, with 26% of Lifesum users stating that these vintage photos inspire them. Similarly, present day photos in which people do not look good would motivate 14% of respondents to make a change.

Just 2% said online news stories about other people or celebrities suffering from lifestyle-related health conditions influenced them.

  • When asked about their social media profile picture and whether it accurately reflected what they look like today, Lifesum users were honest about the extent to which manipulation and trickery is used.

Whilst over half (52%) stated that their profile picture did reflect their everyday appearance, 10% of Lifesum users said that their photo obscured features of their bodies or faces which they were uncomfortable about; 8% intentionally chose an old photo in which they looked younger and fitter; 7% admitted to editing or applying filters to make them look better.

Reassuringly, and in a reflection of just how nice Lifesum users are, not a single person (0%) said that they intentionally included pictures of less attractive friends in order to make themselves look better!

  • The tedious work colleague who constantly talks about his or her latest fitness regimen does not inspire: only 2% of respondents claim that a colleague’s opinion would motivate them to get healthier. Similarly, the effect of celebrity health advice might be overrated, as the same low number (2%) cited celeb opinions and fads as most likely to motivate.

By contrast, the opinions of doctors or loved ones are most highly considered as motivating factors: 25% of respondents rate a medical professional’s opinion as most important; 20% for that of their partner.

  • When it came to the anticipated reward for their hard work in getting fitter, just under half of respondents (49%) wanted to feel ‘generally healthier, both physically and mentally’. In second place was the motivation of dropping a clothes size (15%), closely followed by the hope to live longer or improve an existing health condition (11%).

Yet again, the workplace was shown to have limited impact on health decisions, with just 1% of Lifesum users linking improved health with a desire to perform better at work.

The questions we put to our users (with full poll results) were:

Whose opinion would be most likely to motivate you to change your lifestyle and get healthier?

  • Your family doctor or nutritionist 25%
  • A personal trainer at the gym or fitness professional (e.g. yoga or pilates instructor) 13%
  • Your best friend (or extended circle of friends) 11%
  • Your partner 20%
  • A family member: parent, brother or sister 8%
  • A work colleague 2%
  • The opinion of a favourite celebrity 2%
  • The opinion of a TV or online health and fitness expert 2%
  • None of the above 17%

What type of online content would be most likely to motivate you to better health and fitness?

  • A Facebook/Instagram (or other social media) photo of you in which you dislike your appearance 14%
  • A Facebook/Instagram (or other social media) photo of you in a group: where you think you look less attractive than your friends 6%
  • Photos of friends looking fit and healthy 11%
  • Shared details or photos of your friends getting fit or achieving goals (e.g. running a marathon) 9%
  • Photos of you from the past looking younger and fitter 26%
  • Online news stories, photos, or blog posts about people or celebrities suffering from lifestyle-related ill health 2%
  • Online news stories, photos, or blog posts about people or celebrities losing weight or getting in shape 10%
  • None of the above 22%

Does your profile picture on social media accurately reflect your everyday appearance?

  • Yes, I look exactly like my profile picture 52%
  • Yes, but I obscured the features of my body or face that I dislike 10%
  • No, I edited or filtered the image 7%
  • No, I used an old photo in which I look younger and fitter 8%
  • I chose a picture of something else because I dislike my appearance 2%
  • I chose a picture of something that reflects my interests or loves, not my appearance 11%
  • I chose a picture of myself with attractive friends or people to make myself look better by association 1%
  • I chose a picture of myself with ugly friends or people to make myself look better by association 0%
  • None of the above 9%

What anticipated reward is most likely to motivate you to improve your health and fitness?

  • Feeling generally healthier: physically and mentally 49%
  • Dropping a clothing size 15%
  • Getting admiring comments from others 8%
  • Living longer or improving (or reducing the impact of) an existing health condition 11%
  • Romance: pleasing your current partner, getting a new one, or saving a relationship 9%
  • Performing better in team sports or being able to do physically-demanding activities 5%
  • Getting positive responses on photos posted on social media 2%
  • Performing better at work 1%
  • None of the above 0%

With Lifesum, tracking your healthy habits (and the not so healthy ones) becomes a breeze. We’ll help you pick the right food, and eat the right portion sizes, to reach your personal health goals.

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