The increase of physical activity all over the world is compelling, but taking the first step is far more complex. Despite the strong promotion from local and international organizations, getting started and incorporating exercise into our busy lives can be a real challenge. In this digital era, it seems like the information technology can play an important role in promoting physical activity to achieve healthy lifestyle.
Using Social Media to Encourage Physical Activity
#AHPsActive and The Power of Twitter
Launched in Twitter in July 2015, a social media campaign called #AHPsActive encouraged people to participate by tweeting a picture of them ‘getting active’. The social media campaign was about being fun, realistic and achievable.
The campaign received a huge support and a blog from Exercise Works started an online competition involving allied health professionals head-to-head with nurses. They aim to emphasise the importance of peer support and role modeling in physical activity, practice what they actually teach and motivate, inspire and create a sense of community.
In 3 months, over 800 people used the #AHPsActive hashtag in over 2,500 tweets. In the 2-week competition alone, more than 1000 people got involved. Hundreds of photos of healthcare professionals, their team, as well as friends and families participating and enjoying in different activities around the world had reached over 7 million people.
What’s amazing about it is that no money was spent on the campaign – only the time and passion of the people organising the campaign and participating.
Stronger Social Support
Social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter have number of useful features that could enhance social support interventions such as the ability of users to share their stories to others in real time. Majority of people have online social network accounts. The reach and functionality make social networking sites potentially effective tools in providing social support.
The Impact of Social Media
The power of social influence has been seen in both positive and negative. For example, negative behaviours posted by a peer on social media such as smoking and drinking makes observers more likely to do the same. Or if an overweight colleague consistently posts about his or her weight loss progress, which is a positive thing, you’re more likely to be motivated pursue weight loss goals as well.
Positive behaviours are also powerful in social networks and can be harnessed for good. Social media can be utilized not only to encourage physical activity, but also to promote other beneficial things such as preventative care.
In a 2015 study published in the journal Preventive Medicine Reports, it was shown that putting people in the right kind of social environment is enough to interact with each other and even anonymous social interaction can promote behaviour change.
The participants in the study barely know about one another, yet resulted in strong positive effects even in minimal exposure to social cues. Simply seeing posts of your peers going to a fitness class is a good motivation to get moving. Above it all, the technology that can be used to share that information costs almost nothing.
How about making yourself an inspiration to others? If you’re practicing healthy living, try sharing your experience to the rest of the world. After all, it only takes a few clicks to make a difference!