This research aims to create/leverage correlations between social networking and effective exercise adherence. There is a substantial body of research regarding social networking and increased physical activity, but little regarding the effective usage of advanced web technologies to address exercise adherence (very important since 50% of people drop out of exercise programs within six months).
We propose to incorporate semantic technologies in exercise-oriented social networks to provide an interoperable historical record of one’s exercise adherence. This can be exchanged between trusted peers, and can also be used to power collaborative feedback mechanisms. Research has shown that interpersonal communication is one of the most important reasons why people use the Internet (Olsen, 2008). Since 2001 there has been a rapid expansion of social networking services (Boyd/Ellison, 2007).
Networking and the subsequent use of social capital (i.e. the value of connections in these networks) has become an important aspect for many. Online social networking services have eliminated the geotemporal limitations found in traditional networking and now provide global networking in real time.
Regular exercise/physical activity have been recognised as factors that can delay chronic health problems and diseases associated with aging (American College of Sports Medicine, 1998), can reduce disability, extend independent life, and improve the quality of life (Atienza, 2001). As a risk factor for several chronic diseases, healthcare costs can be attributed to physical inactivity, and a reduction of inactivity levels can have a significant reduction in overall healthcare costs (Katzmarzyk et al, 2000).
Initial but limited research has shown that individuals in the top two quartiles for measured social capital were significantly less likely to be physically inactive than those in the two lowest quartiles, highlighting the importance of programs aimed at increasing physical activity (Mummery et al., 2008). Websites like RunAlong.se are now emerging that encourage “user-driven running” activities.
While there are various personal devices that monitor/track a person’s exercise characteristics (e.g. Nike+iPod, Fitbit), there is as yet no service that successfully incorporates the power of social networks with one’s own exercise adherence. Studies have indicated that “lack of motivation” is a key factor in why a person does not exercise. One key to address this is the relationship between participant and provider (i.e. personal trainer) and/or participant and social network. People join gyms not only for health and fitness, but also for the social atmosphere.
To fully understand the power of combining social networking and exercise adherence, the physical barrier of the four walls of an exercise facility is removed and technology is used that enables a measurable improvement towards one’s fitness goals. With the move towards making machine-understandable data available for computers, allowing exercise data to become accessible/exchangeable between trusted peers is quite important. However, one’s historical exercise records are often locked in to proprietary systems. Leveraging the candidate’s domain expertise, open schemas will be created for making one’s exercise profile portable/shareable with fitness providers, friends, etc., through shared social connections. By publishing selected aspects of these profiles using semantic terms, it will become easier for people to search for and discover relevant exercise regimes.
This study will research how the use of social semantic technologies can effectively address the lack of motivation excuse and thus increase exercise adherence/general health. To achieve this goal, our research will consist of:
- State-of-the-art of systems used by providers with regards to exercise adherence;
- Analysis of social networking and the Semantic Web as a means to provide an additional tool for providers with regards to exercise adherence;
- Analysis of improved health/fitness measures;
- Analysis of feedback mechanisms and economic improvements in health (both individual and group).