Competition is the best workout motivation, study finds

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LACK of physical activity has been shown to increase the risk of chronic illness and mortality. Yet, a large part of the American population fails to meet the government’s recommendations for physical activity. According to a new study, competition might be the key to getting us to workout more.
[Men and women on treadmill at the gym] Competition drives us to exercise more, according to a new study. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, 69% of Americans 18-24 years of age failed to meet the federal guidelines for physical activity in 2014.
To remedy the situation, researchers and governments have tried to uncover key motivators for people to maintain a schedule of physical activity, as well as cost-effective strategies to increase motivation.
Teaming up with friends and engaging in physical activity routines together is thought to be good for starting a new fitness routine, as the psychological costs of changing behavior are easier to bear in companionship.
But how does social media affect our motivation? Does a friendly, supportive environment help promote physical activity? Or might competition be more effective?
Support vs. competition in social media A new study, published in the journal Preventative Medicine Reports, from the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania looked at key motivators for exercise in the context of social media. The study was led by Jingwen Zhang, Ph.D.
The study involved 790 graduate students from the University of Pennsylvania who signed up for an 11-week exercise program called “PennShape.” The exercise program consisted of weekly exercise classes that included running, spinning, yoga, and weightlifting.
The program also included fitness training and nutrition advice, which were all managed through a website created by the researchers. At the end of the program, those who attended the most classes won rewards and cash prizes.
In order to see how social media affected the participants, researchers divided them into four groups of six persons each: support team, competition team, a combined team with both support and competition, and a control group.
All the groups had access to online leaderboards, but for each group, leaderboards showed different things.
The competition team could see a leaderboard of how well other teams did. Competition-driven teams were rewarded based on the average number of classes attended.

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