It can be too easy these days to sit on your posterior, whittling away the hours messing around on social media. It’s a dangerous practice, especially as it seems that every week we hear a new story about how sitting down will eventually kill you. A story caught my eye this morning – a ‘multidisciplinary research group’ from the University of South Australia has designed a Facebook app (remember those?) that allows users to invite their pals to join them in a spot of exercise.

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‘Active Team’ uses a pedometer to track participants exercise, and an eight week study found that groups of friends using Active Team increased their weekly physical activity by up to two hours.

“Seeing a two hour increase in average physical activity levels associated with Active Team usage was quite exciting for us, often more conventional new health interventions will only lead to physical activity improvements of the order of 20 minutes or so.”

Said Dr Carol Maher, the project leader. The full results of the study will be produced later this year.

Studying Facebook usage

I like the fact that they claim to have paid a lot of attention to how people already use Facebook before they started to construct the app. They added a reward system that allowed you to send virtual items like golden ‘sneakers’ to you team mates if they’d done well. This adds a fun element to it and that’s very important for repeat usage and motivation. The team intend to test the app with 500-600 further participants in the coming months. Funding will allow for much wider testing and a look at the possibility of extending the app outside of Facebook.

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A clogged market?

It’s a nice idea, but I can’t help but feel that they may be pushing treacle up a hill (that would be awesome exercise) to make a big impact with this. There are a lot of fitness tracker apps on the market, combine that with wearables and your looking at some serious competition. I do find tracking my fitness as a great way to push it further and have been using a Jawbone UP for a couple of years now, combined with Strava, it really helps me gauge where I need to go and a comment etc from a friend always helps. Good luck to the Active Fitness team! Now, get up from your desk and have a walk about!

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Images – header – https://www.flickr.com/hulagway, dog on sofa – https://www.flickr.com/n-r-t and figure on log –https://www.flickr.com/n-r-t all used under CC.

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