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I did not run a 5K today

Updated on March 26, 2013
Runners are everywhere! Source: Björn Láczay, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY 2.0.
Runners are everywhere! Source: Björn Láczay, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY 2.0.

A few weeks ago I was tempted to post ‘I did not run a 5K’ on a Saturday or Sunday morning as my Facebook status. It seems lately everyone is out there running and immediately coming home and posting it on their Facebook page. I decided instead of a one-off status update that people might find funny or might take personal I’d turn it into an article. Granted the idea of the post certainly is a little tongue-in-cheek but there is a lot of self-deprecating humor out there regarding Facebook posts and people should be able to laugh at themselves. And what is it with running lately? It seems to be the ‘in’ thing right now. I feel like running is the new cupcakes. For a while cupcakes where the next big thing. Maybe this is a direct cause and effect relationship- people ate so many trendy cupcakes that now they have to run trendy 5ks to work them off?

Sure this article may sound a little bitchy, complaining about people’s status updates, but I realized I could turn it into a commentary on Facebook. It is interesting to me how Facebook has changed our culture- I feel like everybody suffers from delusions of grandeur now that we are all logged into FB. 90% of Facebook statuses, including mine I’m not immune from this diatribe, could beg the question, Who cares? Updates like ‘I just finished cleaning my entire house’ or ‘I got out of work early’ these types of posts could easily get the response ‘Who cares?’ from the reader. But in fairness clearly people do care and do want to read about every inane detail of all of their friends’ lives otherwise they wouldn’t be on Facebook in the first place. There is definitely a lot of commentary out there regarding Facebook, ranging from humorous looks at typical status updates to serious insights regarding its psychological effects on people who use it. There have been a lot of negative impacts, cyber-bullying in preteens and teens, depression in young adults in their 20s and 30s when they see others getting married, buying homes, and having kids if they are not. My question is does Facebook make people adopt healthier lifestyles? Are all these ‘My workout kicked my butt today!’ and ‘Just got in from a great 10 mile run!’ keeping people motivated and sticking to their work-out regimens? Do the Facebook bragging status updates keep people on track?

It’s almost as if people on Facebook suffer from celebrity syndrome- celebs feel pressured to stay in shape and try not to be photographed in the same outfit twice. To an extent Facebook offers the same always-in-the-limelight lifestyle, with all the pictures posted along with status updates. The celebrity fashion concept is translated to us regular folks as ‘Oh damn I can’t wear that dress to two weddings in a row because there will be pictures on Facebook.’ People think if I go to the gym I can post it on Facebook when I get home (who knows if they are eating a pint of Ben and Jerry’s while they type). A close friend of mine ran a 5k race about a year ago (and many, many more since then) where two middle-aged women had coordinated t-shirts. One shirt said ‘I am only running this race so I can make it my status update on Facebook’ and the other ‘I am only running this race so I can post the picture of me crossing the finish-line on Facebook.’ She immediately came home and told me about it and we agreed it was a great, self-deprecating but true representation of how Facebook has changed things. But to take it a step further is Facebook helping people stay motivated in their workouts? If so I can’t really complain when I log into Facebook and everyone is boasting about their exercise achievements of the day if it is helping them move towards a healthy lifestyle.

Healthy eating and a workout routine are achieved through a variety of ways and it depends on the individual. Some people need to go to a gym because even if they have the work-out equipment at home they won’t use it. For example, for me, to eat healthy snacks I have to bring it to work with me- if I bring veggies, unsalted almonds, fruit, and yogurt I will eat them. But if that stuff is available to me on a day off, I want nothing to do with it. Maybe people find they are sticking to their workout routines better when they post about it on Facebook. It’s a gold star on a job well done and it is interesting to think an online website, which is a time-suck, keeping users indoors and sedentary, may also be helping people to stay in shape.

Mark Zuckerberg, co-creator and CEO of Facebook.  Source: Jason McELweenie, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY 2.0.
Mark Zuckerberg, co-creator and CEO of Facebook. Source: Jason McELweenie, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY 2.0.

In the end, it does seem that something trendy and omnipresent in Facebook statuses is aiding people in sticking with their work-outs. The next time I am tempted to think ‘Who cares?’ when I read about an accomplished 5k or a great workout I should step back and think ‘Job well done Facebook friend.’ These days, in the US, we need all the help we can get to be healthy- so thank you Mark Zuckerberg.

What do you think- is Facebook helping people stay motivated in their workouts?

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