There are all types of fitness advice available online. Social media can be a great place to learn new information, but it’s hard to determine what is accurate and what is not. For example, fitness, wellness, and health content are some of the top content types online, but not everyone with a big following is necessarily an expert. Just because someone looks fit does not mean that their advice is accurate. Here are five red flags to look for when following fitness advice online.
No qualifications or experience
Like searching for a personal trainer, is the person you seek fitness advice from educated? If someone is telling you to do something that may affect your health, they must have the right qualifications to do so. Qualifications can mean they have a degree or certification to provide foundational knowledge behind what they are saying. Usually, people who are confident in their background have no problem sharing their qualifications.
In addition to qualifications, they could have experience in the area they are advising about. What are their successes? For example, if you like the workouts they show you:
- Are they showing the correct form?
- Can you duplicate them safely?
- Are they giving examples of others besides them doing the exercises?
Sometimes, workout videos may just show you an example of exercises they perform, but it’s not an example of a training program. Learn the difference when you decide to repeat that activity, and talk to a doctor before starting a program. Look at the person’s track record to determine if they are the right person to seek advice from. Anyone can call themselves a coach.
Shallow posts vs. Informational
Listen, we all like to have aesthetically pleasing posts here and there. But is their feed more about looking good instead of giving helpful health information? The internet is full of altering apps and filters, so be wary of what you see. Look for someone who gives good information and shows the fun side of health. If it’s all about them, then how will they help you?
In addition, let’s discuss the body type trends. Surgery to alter and speed up results is popular. This is not about the act of getting surgery, but the intent behind the advice someone is given after said surgery. Can you get surgery and still give fitness advice? Yes. But I think it’s important for people to be honest about how they achieved quicker results if they are calling themselves an expert. The key takeaway is authenticity.
Their feed is mostly sponsored posts
Naturally, if you see someone that looks good, you will want to know how you can look that way too. This isn’t about sponsored posts because we all do them. When I promote a product, I think it’s a good product and would use it myself.
But if you notice a trend of them showing you anything with no honest fitness advice behind it, that’s a red flag. If they make exaggerated or magical pill product claims, that is a red flag. If every piece of advice is centered around selling you a product, is it about the product or education? Always do your due diligence on a product you are being sold.
Because social media is not regulated, it’s vital to fact-check fitness advice online. When given specific advice, is it backed up by scientific evidence? Is the advice within their scope of expertise? It’s one thing to say, you should drink more water, but it’s another to say you need to drink 64 ounces a day to lose weight.
Anecdotal advice that supports their claims is not enough. Especially when it comes to health, it’s crucial to have accredited sources that back up those claims(this does not mean another person’s Instagram post). If they can’t give you any accurate sources, seek advice elsewhere.
They only rely on what worked for them
Listen, everyone loves an excellent transformational story. Of course, you want to know what they did to achieve those results, but they probably had help. It is one thing to share your story and share what worked for you, but it’s another thing to recommend the same to others. If their advice is restrictive or unrealistic for you, then that is a red flag.
Fitness is not a one-size-fits-all approach and should be about health before aesthetics. If someone gives advice based on an all-or-nothing approach, reconsider who you are taking advice from. An expert understands the different weight loss or health approaches and knows how to adjust them to meet someone’s needs.