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Smith, CF (2013)
Languages: English
Types: Unknown
Subjects:
Objectives: The purpose of this exploratory study was to assess the effectiveness of using a social media-based intervention to improve physical activity and motivation for a group of recreational runners. Design: A cross-sectional approach was adopted. The researcher posted weekly motivational comments and prompted questions to a closed Facebook group over a 12 week period, encouraging participant responses. Measures of physical activity (e.g., runs completed) and interaction within the group (e.g., response frequency) were monitored. Method: Participants were recruited via local parkrun Facebook pages. Responses by the 17 participants (11 female and 6 male, all over age 35) to the Facebook posts were explored using inductive thematic analysis to identify factors appertaining to motivation. Results: Three main themes emerged from qualitative analysis. A “sense of community” was evidenced by accounts of membership to other physical and virtual groups, and growing interaction within the Facebook community. The “feel good factor” was discussed in relation to the running ‘high’ and improvements in physical and mental wellbeing. “In pursuit of progress” was apparent through participants’ personal goals, comparisons with others, and exercise tracking methods. Conclusions: As an exploratory study, the results obtained suggested that this was an area worthy of future research. The study provided valuable feedback for using social media as an intervention or research delivery vehicle. The key considerations for future research design include appropriate selection of the participant population; effective process of obtaining participant consent; continued participant engagement; and creation of an autonomous-supportive environment within the group.

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