Here`s how the Web can help people get fitter

Washington D.C, Oct 8 (ANI): As per a recent study, online peer networks can motivate people to exercise more.

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have found a way to make the Web and social media more effective for improving people’s exercise habits.

The study tested a fitness motivator that can be more effective and vastly cheaper than promotional advertisements: program-assigned “health buddies.”

By the end of the 13 week study, the findings were clear. Promotional messages caused an initial bump in class attendance, but the motivational effects quickly wore off. The promotional messages had almost no long term effect on class participation.

Program-assigned “buddies,” on the other hand, were much more effective at motivating people to exercise. As the weeks went by, the motivating effects increased, producing a substantial growth in enrollment levels among people in peer networks.

Researcher Jingwen Zhang said that they were able to use the positive signals to form a reinforcing loop that pushed everyone to exercise more.

What this new study reveals is that these same positive behavior signals are also powerful in our online networks, and can be harnessed for the social good. This approach could be applied not only to encourage exercise, but also to promote vaccinations, medication compliance, and preventative care.

Researcher Damon Centola says that the results show that you don’t necessarily need to generate new media content in order to reach people. You just have to put people into the right kind of social environment where they can interact with each other, and even anonymous social interaction will create behavior change.

The study is published in Preventative Medicine. (ANI)

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