Special Reports

University of Southern California: How Social Networks Influence Mankind’s Fitness [Video]


University of Southern California computer scientists have scrutinized the invisible connection between fitness and social network. They aimed to quantify health outcomes with the use of digital technology. And what they found out could be promising.

The USC team, led by Greg Ver Steeg, who is USC Viterbi School of Engineering's Information Sciences Institute and Department of Computer Science' research assistant professor, looked into the lifestyle of those who track their fitness with wearable technologies and how they are affected by their social media connections. Ver Steeg's inspiration for the research can be traced back in 2007 when he studied whether or not Obesity is contagious, USC News reported.

For this research Ver Steeg asked whether or not physical fitness is contagious. He also asked if the influence lies on the design of the incentives and social network. They monitored 44,000 Fitbit users and they found out that those who are more active in their social media presence are more physically active.

Ver Steeg's study also coincides with Massachusetts Institute of Technology's recent study, which proves that exercise can be contagious, Stuff NZ reported. Over 1.1 million people on the global social media platform have been observed in the period of five years. These people made 3.5 million connections to which 2.1 million were analyzed by the researchers.

The researchers have observed that these users ran 350 million kilometersand posted this activity on their social media accounts. This in return influences their peers to run an additional 0.3 kilometers per minute. If the influencer runs a certain number of kilometers, the other person will run faster and longer. If the influencer burns a certain amount of calories, the other person will burn more.

The study reveals that exercise is really contagious but depends only on who's spreading the influence. According to the study's authors, if behavior contagion on social media truly exists, understanding how they manifest on different people will help further studies create effective intervention programs to be incorporated in every individual's treatment. What the researchers aimed at was to understand how to create healthy interventions that maximize the power of social media and its benefits.

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