Lack of exercise continues to challenge today society, adversely affecting human health and thus necessitating medical care, affecting human well being and productivity destructively. Medical research reveals a correlation between physical inactivity and health problems as well as several medical conditions.
Physical activity can be defined as the bodily movement produced by skeletal muscles, requiring energy at a level to produce health benefits. Scientific evidence linking regular physical activity to an array of health benefits acts to reinforce the impression that regular physical activity is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. Despite this evidence and a general acceptance by the public of the importance of physical activity, millions of people remain sedentary (Olofsson, 2010). Therefore, there is an urgent need to identify strategies to increase physical activity in the society in order to curb the serious public health burden associated with the risks of inactivity.
Online connections between people are becoming more interwoven with offline real-life interests. As a result, social networking technologies are incorporating real-life social interactions, including health management and physical activity. Lack of motivation is a key factor in why an individual does not exercise (Oman & King, 1998). People decide to join a gym not only for the health benefits they get, but also for the social atmosphere. By combining social networking and exercise, the physical barrier in an exercise facility is removed and technology is used as a motivation to improve the physical activity.
In essence, online social networks relate to exercise and fitness in two ways. Individuals can become more sedentary by remaining tied to a computer in order to remain connected with their network. On the other hand, the advent of mobile devices allows individuals to manage different applications, enabling them to remain active and stay in touch with others. To provide motivation and guidance in exercise sessions, internet enabled mobile devices can be used as a platform. Since a mobile device is light and small, embedding it with sensors can serve as a cheap, more convenient and a multi-purpose alternative to traditional exercise equipment (Oloffson, 2010).
Research has shown that humans are attracted to the natural environment, indicating that people experience an array of positive social, psychological and physiological results. Since a mobile device is light enough, one can carry it to a natural environment where physical activity can be performed (Olofsson, 2010). Therefore, using light, internet enabled mobile devices can be a good motivation for physical activity.
Music from mobile devices can also act as a motivation during exercise. When rhythm from music relates to personal and situational factors, it promotes more exercise with less stress. Music can be a good motivation during exercise by improving the mood and relaxation, assisting in dissociating from unpleasant feelings and reducing rating of perceived exertion. Social networking can also be used as a strategy to bolster exercise self-efficacy in physical activity (Oman & king, 1998). When one is exercising in a group environment, efficacy seems to grow positively due to the motivation provided by the group.
When comes to limitation, there is various personal devices that monitor a person’s exercise characteristics. However, scientific research is limited on the effectiveness of online sharing via social networks of one’s physical activity.
The findings above imply that exercise programs should be structured in a manner that they maximize self-efficacy and subsequently enhance adherence. Individuals with high adherence seem to enjoy greater social support within the exercise program, have more experiences that are positive and show a more robust sense of efficacy at the end of the program.
Gaps: Powerful behavior change programs can be developed through the use of social networks and an understanding of psychological processes that motivate behavior change. The achievement of this goal, however, is dependent on the accessibility of the said technology to many people.