Twitter is a Dieter's Best Friend: How Tweets Boost New Year's Fitness Plans

It’s the new year, and you’ve probably noticed that the gyms are busier than ever. If you don’t want this year to be like every other year (in terms of making resolutions and failing), then we’re all in luck — the Social Media Renaissance means this year is markedly different than others. Twitter is now available as a tool for your diet and exercise resolutions, and it’s an excellent tool at that.

On a basic level, social media is built on the idea of a social network — a built-in support group. Social network fitness sites have been around for a long time. But even though Twitter isn’t tailor made for fitness goals, the micro-blogging site one-ups services like MapMyRun and Fit-ify in an important way. For more specialized sites, you have to make the effort to sign up and to some extent, admit that you need the extra motivation of the internet community to get you going. Twitter, however, is already part of people’s daily routines — using tweets for fitness is just a matter of going about your daily life in a more targeted way.

Within Twitter, there are several routes to find motivation. The first and most obvious is to follow fitness, diet, and healthy living gurus. Who you follow is entirely dependent on your goals — whether it be weight loss, muscle mass gain, increasing energy, etc. Twitter is a generalized site, so you can incorporate experts from different fields to reach your goals. For example, following @WebMd is a good idea to get a handle on general health information.

If the intersection of pop culture and fitness is more your thing, then try some of the celebrity body buffs. The former Real Housewife Bethenny Frankel, for example, updates her Twitter regularly with “skinny girl” recipes and answers to fans’ questions. @JillianMichaels, the hit instructor from the Biggest Loser television show, is heavy on the motivation, and does a good job of letting followers know what she’s up to instead of simply directing others.

Twitter is also useful from the standpoint of updating the world on your goals and therefore feeling some sense of responsibility to reach them. Of course, this is the concept behind a lot of diet and exercise forums that already exist — but again, Twitter allows you to reach an audience that isn’t just focused on fitness. Depending on the type of person you are, you might feel more motivated at the thought of tweeting workout updates to your friends and family than to strangers. And if it’s anonymity that helps motivate you, that’s also easy to achieve on Twitter — do you think Lady GaGa knows all seven million of her followers?

Ultimately, Twitter is a great social media tool because of its flexibility and diverse applications. Twitter is an obvious go-to for people in business or building corporate strategies, but I think it will definitely emerge as a site that people bend to their personal wills more and more in 2011.

Has a tweet ever motivated you to become more fit?