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Do virtual/online exercise classes really work?

There are a vast number of virtual exercise classes available online; from low intensity yoga or pilates-based classes to high-intensity interval  training and virtual spin classes. 

Theoretically these exercise classes provide a wonderful resource to help people get active- some classes are even free of charge making them economical.  However, there are a couple of reasons to be sceptical.

First, it's difficult for instructors to offer feedback on technique to attendees if they can't properly see each other and performing some exercises with with bad technique can cause injury and reduce efficacy. Good instructors will explain how you should feel and which part of your body you should be working. Second, if you are not already an active person, do you seek out online exercise classes?

Therefore,  I would like to know, could technology be used to develop the online exercise platform to help make it safer and to target people who are not already active?

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Nattawan Utoomprurkporn 11 months ago


I know that it would be tricky for an exercise class since the instructor cannot correct the post etc. However, the online session can help in other aspect though.
I have an experience faciliating online meditation classes. My participants mentioned that they are much more motivated due to the group spirit. It really helps to see that other people is also going through this together.

Potential online platform that can be useful to correct the posture maybe v-board which can detect your body weight-shifting or some sort motion detection camera to detect the position of the participant's body/arms/legs.

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Catalina Romila 11 months ago

Could technology be used to develop safer online exercises ? I think so but at the same time this comes at a financial cost, and would also require the person to be seeking the platform. So for instance, if you was motivated enough to exercise at home you could Zoom or have an online Call with a pre-prescribed PT.

In my opinion technology could be used to make home exercise safer but one must show the determination and initiative.

As for adopting a technology to target and appeal to people who are not already active I think is more difficult because I think it requires a change of attitude. You first need to want to make a change before you look for ways to make that change!

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Emily Crawford 11 months ago

I agree there definitely has to be a buy-in from participants if they are going to be successful...

Re the concern about 'form' and carrying out the exercises correctly, yes this could be mitigated via a video call with a PT (if face-to-face isn't an option) but could wearable technology be created to help with this? If an app or program knows the build/weight of someone, could the user put on sensors whilst carrying out the exercises and be notified if their form is wrong or needs altering...?

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Catalina Romila 11 months ago

Emily, I think your idea of wearable sensors could be a nice solution.

An example where a similar sensor technology was successfully applied is the Oral B toothbrush where if you put too much pressure on your teeth when brushing you get a red light warning you to reduce that pressure. This works rather well and now every dentist I went to recommended me to use the Oral B toothbrush as I tend to brush my teeth too hard.

But adding something similar to exercise and possibly have some sort of harness might inconvenience people, and that may prevent people from wanting to buy it?

Again, I do think that motivation and desire to improve would play a major role in determining if there's enough market incentivising this technological pursuit.

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Siana Jones 11 months ago

Do you mean like some kind of motion capture suit @Emily Crawford? :)

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Octavio Zamudio 11 months ago

I was just thinking of it. Inertial Measuring Units are a very likely solution, however the prices, especially for the software, are prohibitive for personal use. Though, this may change in the future.

I have the same thought about more inactive individuals who may not seek for online help as the first option. It would be very interesting to know the best strategies to overcome physical inactivity. I also agree that online classes may fit those with some previous experience and just looking for some more interactive training or more variety.

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