Flying robots and web-cams lead to a healthier life. - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

Flying robots and web-cams lead to a healthier life

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FLINT (WJRT) -

(09/04/12) - One thing we know keeps you healthy is exercise. Finding a workout buddy is one way to help you stay motivated. But sometimes getting schedules to click can be tough. No worries!  Technology is your friend. In fact, it could even be your exercise partner.

First you need to ask yourself, if your workout routine is really working for you.

Kansas State University kinesiologist, Brandon Irwin, says the answer is probably, no. "We're finding that rarely, people are achieving the levels of duration and intensity."

Irwin's mission: Figure out what it takes to motivate people to get better results. "And what we're finding is that you can do that by partnering people with somebody else, through a video game."

He conducted a study where participants connected with a cyber-partner through a web-cam. This partner, they were told, was slightly better skilled at playing an exercise game and cycling.

They were led to believe their cyber buddy was right there with them, but that live feed was really a recording. "We've made it so that partner would never quit."

Without the cyber-partner, participants rode the bike an average of 10 minutes. With the cyber-partner, Irwin says, they doubled their riding time. "From 10-20 minutes. That's a pretty significant jump!"

According to research from Henry Ford Hospital, increasing workout time and intensity can have a huge impact on health. One study found heart patients who walked at a two-mile-per-hour pace for 25 minutes, two days a week, lowered their risk of hospitalization or death by 10 percent. Those who walked that pace, for the same time, but for did it five days a week, lowered those risks by 25 percent.

Meanwhile, Irwin hopes his research leads to more motivating exer-games. He says he is excited about other innovations in the works, as well. "Jogged, which is really cool!"

The Joggobot turns a smart phone-controlled helicopter into your jogging buddy. It can be programmed to keep pace with you or coach you to run faster. The Joggobot is currently under development in Australia, and is not available- YET!

Meanwhile, Professor Irwin says he'd like to use his research to create an online exercise matchmaker, that would pair people of similar fitness levels to workout together via webcam.

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