Social media vs health: get your priorities right



No yet on Facebook or twitter? Then you are basically out of the loop. Social media and networking have become very popular during the last year. A survey conducted by the American Heart Association (AHA) in November 2009 showed the following statistics:

  • 67% of adults spend some time on one or another form of online social networking, especially adults under 44.
  • 12% of adults use Internet tools to get health info or track their health.
  • Of those using online health tracking tools, 27% of respondents (31% of men and 24% of women) use social networking sites. In fact, social networking sites seem to be the preferred platform, even more popular than employer-sponsored sites (26%).

So what aspect of their health do people track online? The AHA survey revealed:

  • 31% track fitness routine(35% men and 27% women)
  • 34% track food and calorie intake
  • 28% track weight loss or gain
  • 34% track health records electronically

So far, so good. It is a great thing when people use technology to track their health. Unfortunately, there is a catch. Many people get too involved with social networking they forget what they are actually working for – a healthy lifestyle. Because a healthy lifestyle is not achieved by simply sitting down in front of the computer.

Sedentary lifestyle is a major factor in many chronic conditions, such as cardiovascular disease, obesity, and type 2 diabetes. The most common reason for being able to exercise is lack of time (21% of respondents).  Yet, people spend so much time online on social networks that lack of time is actually more of an excuse than a valid reason. Again, the AHA survey revealed some interesting statistics:

  • 37% of respondents (35% men, 39% women) spend less than an hour social networking
  • 18% spend 1 to 2 hours
  • 7 % spend 2 to 3 hours
  • 3% spend 3 to 4 hours
  • 3% spend more than 4 hours, especially those aged between 18 and 25.

While social network frequency seems to be dependent on age, income doesn’t seem to have any influence.

It is hard to get moving. Tell me about it. It takes a lot of will power on my side to leave this blog and this computer to go for my jogging runs. But it doesn’t have to be a run and it doesn’t have to be long. The AHA guidelines recommend a 30-minute walk daily walk for vascular health. And if you don’t have the time, why not reduce your social networking time?

In the end, you have to get your priorities right.

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NOTE: The contents in this blog are for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical advice, diagnosis, treatment or a substitute for professional care. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health professional before making changes to any existing treatment or program. Some of the information presented in this blog may already be out of date.
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