Rethinking Fitness: Your Fantasy Football League Could Boost Physical Activity Levels By 31% [News]
Image: Digital Sports Lounge
Fantasy sports leagues allow football, baseball, and basketball gurus to pay very close attention to the physical activity…of others. In 2013, 33 million users participated in the online world of fantasy sports, helping add to the $1.44 billion revenue that the industry creates annually. But instead of joining the masses, Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) Professor of Psychology Arlen Moller saw an opportunity to increase the physical activity of the millions of users behind the computer screens — by using video games and online fantasy sports.
“Ironically, fantasy sports have traditionally been focused on paying attention to physical-activity data yet have been entirely sedentary for those playing” — Arlen Moller, Professor of Psychology at the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT)
Active video games (AVG) have become increasingly popular as the tech industry continues to push its limits; products like Wii Fit and Xbox Fitness have topped the charts with games that get users up and moving. And while these systems incorporate the synchronization of player activities and game features, which is what makes them so appealing, they lack the motivators necessary to keep users active outside the game or for longer periods of time.
Instead of developing a new AVG, Moller and his research team combined a heated passion for fantasy sports and the development gap within AVG’s. In his pilot intervention, “Moller’s Augmented Fantasy Baseball Study,” he gave participants individually calibrated fitness goals every week; gradually increasing their activity over time until levels hit the Surgeon General’s recommendations (150 minutes/week for adults). If these targets were met, additional points, privileges, and access to features within their online fantasy baseball league were granted.
The trial ran for 12 weeks and required subjects to track their steps per day and record their results on an online message board, while simultaneously participating in the fantasy league. The study yielded a 31% increase in average daily activity, from 8,678 steps per day at the baseline measurement to 11,364 steps per day.
“A basic principle of this research involves taking people’s enduring enthusiasm for professional sports and leveraging that enthusiasm to help them become more physically active themselves.” — Arlen Moller
Ballin’ Is A Habit
For some, the hobby of fantasy sports has turned into a habit, and for others an insatiable obsession; what ESPN Fantasy Sports Analyst Matthew Berry calls The Fantasy Life.
And while this is the first research of its kind, Moller is hopeful that the suggestion and adaptation of lifestyle changes can carve out a place in the increasingly-popular fantasy sports world. One of the most positive takeaways from the study was the continuous use of message boards to interact with other participants on not just the fantasy sport itself, but about their own physical activity goals, which motivated one another.
Know a commissioner and looking to make a lifestyle change? Lobby to add a fitness element. It might just be the most fun way to improve your health.
is an AFAA-CGF, Beachbody INSANITY Coach, former chunky gal
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When she isn't spending her extra time as a campus tour guide (Go Tigers!), she's probably scrounging around the aisles of Barnes & Noble or doing some impulse online shopping.
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