A study shows that physical activity is 'contagious' because of social media. Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology found that people who post details of their exercise patterns on social media sites motivate other people to be more active. Researchers tracked the exercise routines of 1.1 million runners over a five-year period. They looked at the runners' social network use, distance, time, speed and the calories burned. The researchers concluded that sharing exercise data on social media can inspire others to exercise more, harder and more competitively.
The study includes accounts of how reading about a friend's exercise can be inspiring. It said: "An additional kilometre run by friends can inspire someone to run an additional three-tenths of a kilometre, and an additional ten minutes run by friends can inspire someone to run three minutes longer." Social media improved the performance of slower, less in shape runners, and of those who were showing signs of overtaking a friend's performance. A researcher said: "In general, if you run more, it is likely that you can cause your friends to run more."