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Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Losing weight the Second Life Way

Ok, so we all know that we can do almost everything in SL that we can do in the real world and guess what, that includes losing weight apparently.

In 2009 Celeste DeVaneax the Sr. IT Manager, Support & Deployment and Creative Director of Club One Island, at Club One, one of the premier fitness club networks in California opened Club One Fitness in Second Life.

Why did she do it? According to Celeste “ There are so many barriers to successful weight management, and most of these barriers have nothing to do with the actual biological process of losing or maintaining weight and everything to do with the psychological barriers. These barriers can include feelings of resistance and fear to a multitude of things, real or imagined. All those negative feelings we experience when we think about losing weight, or eating more healthily, or working out, prevent us from getting started or staying motivated, and from being successful. This project goes beyond the usual weight loss tools and activities and addresses those psychological barriers in a virtual environment.”

Celeste is further quoted as saying “The mind does not know the difference between what is real and what is imagined.” Research and experience have proven this to be true time and again. Consider the experience of visiting a beach: the setting sun, the ocean waves, the distant call of sea gulls crying, will change the physical state of most people, generally resulting in a mood of relaxation. Technology has developed to the point of allowing us the option of visiting that relaxing beach every day, just by doing so virtually. I will agree that visiting a virtual beach is not exactly the same experience as visiting a physical beach. However, the mind does not know the difference between what is real and what is imagined, and a virtual beach is close enough to the real thing to cause psychological and physiological changes in the visitor.”

And now it appears that there are some results available from research done on this programme.

Participants in two 12-week weight loss programmes – one real and one online – lost similar amounts of weight.

Indiana University researchers told a conference that confidence and motivation built in the virtual gym continued in normal life. A UK psychologist said mixing online and real world support might work best.

Dr Jeanne Johnston, who led the study which was presented at the American College of Sports Medicine Conference in Denver, worked in partnership with Club One Island to devise a weight loss programme. Overweight and obese people were recruited to take part in either this programme, or a similar programme delivered more conventionally in a face-to-face setting. Both courses involved four hours a week at meetings either in Second Life or the real world.

Most of those taking part were women, with an average age of 46 in the Second Life programme, and 37 in the face-to-face group and over the 12-week period, both groups achieved similar weight loss – losing 10 pounds on average.

However, when the groups were surveyed on whether their overall behaviour had changed, those using Second Life appeared to have made more changes towards healthy eating and physical activity, suggesting that they might fare better in the future.

Dr Johnston said: “It’s counter-intuitive; the idea of being more active in a virtual world, but the activities that they do in a virtual world can carry over into the real world. The virtual world programme was at least as beneficial as the face-to-face programme, and in some ways, more effective. It has the potential to reach people who normally wouldn’t go to a gym or join a programme because of limitations, such as time or discomfort with a fitness centre environment.”

Dr Jeff Breckon, a researcher in exercise psychology at Sheffield Hallam University, said that there might be a role for virtual support of this type. He said: “There is still evidence that one-to-one sessions can lead to successful outcomes. There may be a place for this, perhaps as an adjunct to these sessions, rather than a replacement.”

Club One Fitness Center in SL is a stunning facility. It takes the form of a fully functional RL gym, with all the amenities. It is certainly worth a visit.

So there we have it fine people of SL no excuses now, time to get with the programme and lose those unwanted pounds!!

Location: http://slurl.com/secondlife/Club%20One%20Fitness/139/154/23

If you want further information contact Celestse at cluboneisland@clubone.com

Information taken from: BBC News website. © British Broadcasting Corporation

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