Motivation Innovation: Cyber-Exercising

September 19, 2012 10:07:09 AM PDT
The stats don't lie: U.S. citizens are slackers when it comes to physical fitness. The CDC reports only 20 percent of Americans over 18 meet aerobic and strength-training guidelines.

Is your workout routine doing enough? Kinesiologist Brandon Irwin doesn't think so.

"We're finding that rarely, people are achieving the levels of duration and intensity," said Irwin, Assistant Professor of Kinesiology at Kansas State University.

Irwin's mission is to figure out what it takes to motivate people to get better results.

"And what we're finding is that you can do that by partnering people with somebody else, through a video game," said Irwin.

Irwin conducted a study where participants connected with a cyber-partner through a web-cam.

Someone they were told was slightly better than them playing this exercise game and cycling. But that live feed was really a recording.

"We've made it so that partner would never quit," Irwin said.

Without the cyber-partner, participants rode the bike an average of 10 minutes. With the cyber-partner, they doubled their riding time.

"From 10 to 20 minutes," said Irwin. "That's a pretty significant jump."

Increasing workout time and intensity can have a huge impact on health. A study shows heart patients who walked at 2 mph for 25 minutes, two days a week lowered their risk of hospitalization or death by 10 percent. Those who walked at 2 1/2 miles for 25 minutes, five days a week lowered those risks by 2 percent.

Meanwhle, Irwin hopes his research leads to more motivating exer-games. And he's excited about other innovations in the works.

"Joggobot, which is really cool!"

The Joggobot turns a smartphone-controlled helicopter into your jogging buddy. It reads the bars on a T-shirt and flies in front of you. It can be programmed to keep pace with you or coach you to run faster.

Flying robots and far-away workout partners: a few things to motivate you to work out harder and longer...for a longer life.

The Joggobot is currently under development in Austrialia and is not available to the public at this point.

Meanwhile, Irwin says he plans to do more cyber-partner exercise studies. He would also like to use his research to create an online exercise matchmaker that would pair people of similar fitness levels so they could workout together through web-cams.

For More Information, Contact:

Brandon C. Irwin
Kansas State University
(475) 227-7770

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