Second Life is an online role playing game which allows individuals to create an online character/persona with which they can explore an online world and interact with the avatars of others.
In an interesting study which has recently been presented at the American College of Sports Medicine Conference in Denver, Dr Jeanne Johnston worked in partnership with a Second Life interactive weight loss community called Club One Island, to come up with a weight loss programme.
Indiana University recruited overweight and obese individuals to take part in either the online programme or a similar programme which was presented face-to-face in real life. Both programmes involved four hours of meetings each week, with the average age of women in the Second Life programme being 46, and the average age in the face-to-face sessions being 37.
After the 12 week period was up it was found that both groups lost similar amounts of weight (an average of 10 pounds) and surprisingly it was the Second Life group that appeared to have made the most changes in terms of healthy eating and exercising.
Dr Johnston said that although the idea of being more active in a virtual world may seem counter-intuitive, activities in the virtual world do tend to then carry over into the real world.
Researchers have said that the results highlight the potential of virtual worlds in helping people who wouldn’t usually visit the gym or join a fitness programme because of stress or discomfort.
View the original BBC News article.