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Examining the Effectiveness of Fitness Technology-Facilitated Group Dynamics-Based Physical Activity Interventions

April 8, 2022 @ 11:00 am - 12:30 pm

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ABSTRACT: There is a clear link between physical activity and health. Unfortunately, most people do not perform the recommended amount of physical activity, which increases the burden on healthcare systems. Fitness technologies, wearables with associated apps, are intended to serve as motivational tools that help people manage, control, and socialize their physical activity. Although research has indicated that socializing physical activity through fitness technologies may be promising, little is yet understood about what types of social interventions may be most effective at stimulating physical activity. Drawing on research from the exercise sciences literature on group dynamics-based physical activity interventions, we design and conduct a longitudinal experiment to socialize exercise using virtual groups enabled by fitness technologies. Our results show that fitness technology-facilitated group dynamics-based physical activity interventions can successfully help exercisers increase their physical activity. In addition, we perform a post-hoc analysis that shows extrinsically motivated exercisers may benefit from socializing their exercise through fitness technologies but not intrinsically motivated exercisers. Moreover, a second post-hoc analysis shows that building group cohesiveness may be crucial for some types of virtual socialization to benefit exercisers. Specifically, group identification may facilitate maximum benefits from supportive virtual socialization but may not be necessary to reap benefits from competitive virtual socialization. Our results demonstrate that socializing exercise through fitness technologies can be beneficial, but that how effective such interventions are at increasing physical activity may depend on the available fitness technology social features, as well as the characteristics of the individuals and virtual groups.

Tabitha L. James is a Professor in the Pamplin College of Business at Virginia Tech. She holds a Ph.D. from the University of Mississippi in Management Information Systems. Her research interests include behavioral information privacy and security, psychological impacts of technology use, and analytics focused on the development of metaheuristics for combinatorial optimization problems. Her research has been published in leading information systems and operations research outlets such as MIS Quarterly, Information Systems Research, Journal of Management Information Systems, Information Systems Journal, European Journal of Information Systems, European Journal of Operational Research, IEEE Transactions on Evolutionary Computation, Information & Management, and IEEE Intelligent Systems. She is a visiting professor at IÉSEG School of Management, France. She has served as an AE for ICIS and ECIS, as well as a mini-track chair and junior faculty consortium co-chair for AMCIS. She serves as an associate editor at the European Journal of Information Systems and Decision Sciences Journal and is also on the editorial review board of the Journal of the Association for Information Systems.