Motivation innovation - cyber-exercising

October 5, 2012 12:00:00 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. We'll tell you how technology could help change that.

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," Brandon Irwin, Assistant professor of kinesiology at Kansas State University told Action News.

His mission is to figure out what it takes to motivate people to get better results. He conducted a study where participants connected with a cyber-partner through a web-cam. It was someone they were told was slightly better than them playing this exercise game, and cycling. However the "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 ten minutes. With the cyber-partner, they doubled their riding time.

"From ten to 20 minutes, that's a pretty significant jump!" Irwin said.

Increasing workout time and intensity can have a huge impact on health. A study shows heart patients who walked at two miles per hour for 25 minutes two days a week, lowered their risk of hospitalization or death by ten-percent. Those who walked at two and a half miles for 25 minutes five days a week lowered those risks by 25-percent. Meanwhile 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!" Irwin said.

The Joggobot, turns a smartphone-controlled helicopter into your jogging buddy. It reads the bars on this tee-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 - they're just a few things to motivate you to work out harder and longer for a longer life.

The Joggobot is currently under development in Australia, and is not available to the public at this point. Meanwhile Irwin says he plans to do more cyber-partner exercise studies. He'd also like to use his research to create an online exercise matchmaker that would pair people of similar fitness levels so they could work out together through web-cams.

For more information, contact:

Brandon C. Irwin
Kansas State University
(475) 227-7770
bcirwin@k-state.edu


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