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Cyber exercise partners help you go the distance
Date:5/24/2012

EAST LANSING, Mich. A new study testing the benefits of a virtual exercise partner shows the presence of a moderately more capable cycling partner can significantly boost the motivation by as much as 100 percent to stick to an exercise program.

The research out of Michigan State University's Department of Kinesiology shows women taking part in cycling exercises exercised twice as long when working with a virtual partner, results the authors said can be used to help people meet physical activity recommendations.

The work by Brandon Irwin and colleagues is published online in the journal Annals of Behavioral Medicine.

"Being able to more than double one's performance is a substantial gain for those trying to increase their physical activity," Irwin said. "These results are encouraging and suggest the gains we observed over six hour-long sessions could be sustained on a longer-term program of exercise."

For many people, lack of motivation is a barrier to achieving both the recommended amount and intensity of exercise. Using the principles of group exercise, which is known to increase people's motivation to stick to an exercise program, the researchers investigated whether a "virtually present" partner would influence participants' motivation to exercise longer.

A total of 58 women recruited from MSU physical activity courses took part in the experiment and exercised on a stationary bike. They were split into three groups: The first group exercised on their own alongside a virtual person, the second group exercised alongside a virtual person but also worked as a team and the third group cycled alone.

At the start, the women in groups one and two were assigned a "virtually present partner" for the ride and were told their partner would be riding at the same time they were, on a similar bike in another lab. The women "met" their partners via a pre-recorded video-chat and were told their partner's per
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Contact: Jason Cody
codyja@msu.edu
517-432-0924
Michigan State University
Source:Eurekalert  

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