Exploratory study of a virtual community for physical activity

Lamia Elloumi*, Bert-Jan van Beijnum, Hermie Hermens

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Physical inactivity is increasingly becoming part of today's lifestyle, leading to a rapid increase in the incidence of diseases including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and obesity. These chronic diseases are, for the most part, preventable by adopting a healthy lifestyle including regular physical activity. To help people maintain appropriate physical activity levels, researchers are developing interventions based on concepts from social science and ICT solutions. In this line, we investigate virtual communities (or social networks) as a candidate solution to support people in achieving their daily physical activity goals. This study observes and explores the differences between using the virtual community and a physical activity monitoring system on the physical activity level. We designed an exploratory study with a duration of 9 weeks in which an intervention group used a virtual community with a physical activity monitoring system and a control group used only a physical activity monitoring system. The results of this exploratory study demonstrate that using virtual communities may motivate and support people in their daily physical activity; in particular, we observed a decrease in the use of the system later than was observed in previous studies. Future investigations are needed to confirm the effect of the virtual community on physical activity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)81-95
Number of pages15
JournalHealth and technology
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - May 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Exploratory study
  • Physical activity
  • Virtual community


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