What’s the deal with the post-exercise selfies?

It seems taking a pic at the gym is just as important as attending the class. Why are we so obsessed? Cat Rodie investigates.

Photo: Instagram @hannahbronfman and @basebodybabes

I’ve hit stop on my Garmin and slowed my pace to a walk. I’m ecstatic; endorphins mixed with the thrill of a new PB. I grab water from the car and head to my stretching spot. And then, while I have one leg balanced on a bench, I take a selfie.

Taking a post-run selfie is part of my running routine now. Run, stretch, selfie, repeat.

I am far from alone. In fact, take a look at any running hashtag and you will find thousands of sweaty selfies documenting speed and distance and everything in between.

But why do we do it? Cynics accuse sporty selfie takers of being a little narcissistic. However, there are many reasons why post-exercise selfies are not as egotistical as they seem.


Zoey Dowling is a running coach and director of Operation Move, an on-line running community. She says that for many people, a post-run selfie is a ray of positivity that can inspire self-belief.

“Most people I work with have so much negativity to deal with in a daily basis. People who say they are too old, too fat, too slow – even getting out the door is an act of bravery.

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“A post run selfie can be a great act of rebellion in that way that says I am worth it, I do deserve to take up space and I am more than what people think of me,” Dowling explains.

Dowling encourages members of the Operation Move community to share their pot-run selfies in dedicated Facebook groups or using the #opmove hashtag. The knock-on effect, she says, is a source of positive feedback (via social media comments) that can change the way people start to see themselves.

“Self belief can start by someone else believing in you enough until eventually you believe it yourself,” notes Dowling.


Dowling also says hopes that her own post-run selfies help inspire others to get themselves out and moving.

“Running is my art, therapy and science and I believe that I can inspire people to take that first step to changing their life. It might not be running, it might be something else.

“But I believe I can show people that slow, fast, motivated, unmotivated, rain or shine I show up,” says Dowling.


For many people, snapping a post-exercise selfie is a way of celebrating achievement. Marathon runner Carolyn Tate says that she likes to share her every-day victories, sometimes they are new PBs, but sometimes they are just finishing a tough training session or simply getting out the door.

“I like to share the victories and the tough days with people who understand,” she says.

“And if I’ve had a particularly significant run I’ll share a selfie because I’m proud of myself and I love to show off.”

Likewise, Sarah Pruett, another keen runner, says that selfies remind her how good she felt at the end of her run.

“It’s a celebration of achievement and pride in my sweaty appearance because it shows I gave it all I’ve got!” she explains.

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For some of us, looking forward to posting an exercise selfie on social media can provide important motivation during exercise. The pictures often garner lots of acknowledgment from friends, which can feel like a reward.

However, sports psychologist Dr Joann Lukins says that it’s important not to rely on this sort of motivation.

“If you’re too heavily reliant on external motivators you hand that motivation reinforcement on to others and if the comments drop, so too may the motivation. Intrinsic motivation is a more controllable source,” she explains.

“Selfies may be a good motivator, but hopefully they’re not your only motivator.”

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fitness | body+soul