FIFO Mental Health…A Task for Sport & Rec Technology?

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A recent research report by Edith Cowan University in Perth, Western Australia identified family and home separation as the number 1 cause of stress in fly-in, fly-out (FIFO) workers. The report, commissioned by Lifeline WA, found that maintaining communication with … Continue reading

Targeting Teens – Health & Fitness for the Next Generation

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It’s becoming increasingly difficult to know how, when and where to target health and fitness messages to pre-teens and teens.  What used to be relatively innocent age groups, are now far more worldly, tech-savvy, informed and opinionated about what happens … Continue reading

Public Art, Playgrounds and Exercise

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Public open spaces are under utilised.  We aren’t just talking about parks and playgrounds, but also town squares, main streets, university grounds, beach fronts, ‘wasted space’ (under bridges etc) and other open areas that people often walk straight through – … Continue reading

Making Fitness Fun – Gamification in 2013

‘Gamification’ has been a buzz word used in most industries during the past few years.  But what is it?  And how can Government, sport and active recreation utilise this concept to increase physical activity levels and social connectedness within communities?

 zombie run

Basically, gamification is the act of making everyday tasks fun – using game based elements – to cause behaviour changes which are carried through into the real world.

And it’s not just for young people.

Gamification can promote health and wellness through a variety of mechanics and dynamics, which are traditionally only seen in ‘games’ – computer, board and others – and include badges • levels • leaderboards • avatars • real-time feedback • challenges and quests • trophy cases.

Effective gamification works because it creates  an experience that drives behaviour. And despite the cautions about the misuse of games, gamification as a concept has great potential for making significant improvements on an individual, social and global scale.

Compared to traditional video gaming where players engage in virtual worlds, gamification has the potential for real-world change.

Research has shown that people who play a game based on a highly believable narrative, for example an oil shortage that would affect the way they drive their car, buy food, etc – actually produced a change in their daily habits which endured beyond the time spent playing the game (McGonigal, 2011).  

By increasing awareness for issues such as social interaction, social responsibility, and community-building for example, the movement can reduce social isolation and contribute to wider social change”. Danya Braunstein

Check out the video Minute Hacks: The Gamification of Fitness for an explanation…in 60 seconds!

We’ve also compiled a list of different ‘gamified’ fitness apps for use by people of all ages, fitness levels and interests.  Try a few – and see if YOUR behaviour changes.

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  • Zombies, Run! Zombies, Run! provides users with more than 30 different missions controlled, in part, by their relative pace, interspersed with songs from the users’ playlist as they walk, jog, or run away from impending zombie doom.
  • Fleetly Not motivated by the living dead? Maybe some healthy competition will kick you into gear.
  • Mobile Adventure Walks by Shinobi Labs  free-to-play iPhone app, is a cross between a treasure hunt and an everyday walk
  • Game Of Thrones Inspired Running RoutesIt seems like every brand is trying to harness the popularity of HBO show Game of Thrones into their own services. Run of Thrones is a game of running paths on Google Maps that are shaped like the family crests of the ruling houses in Game of Thrones.
  • Ghost Race  enables you to track your times on various routes and compare your performance from day to day.
  • Interval Run With training plans including Tabata, Couch to 5K, Gateway to 8K and a One Hour Program, the recorded voice tells you what to do and when to do it.
  • YYoga app offers a variety of yoga and fitness challenges, designed to inspire people to achieve new goals.
  • Proof! Anyone can post a status that they just finished an 18-miler, but this app requires “proof” of completion—i.e. a photo or video.
  • Teemo Turn your workouts into a whirlwind travel adventure. This app virtually drops you into the world’s toughest fitness environments and gets your heart rate pumping and calories burning.
  • Fitocracy Each workout is a mission, assigning you a task each day to get fit. But don’t worry – you’ll be rewarded – virtually speaking of course – with each feat accomplished.
  • Bit Timer promises to be the “World’s Simplest Interval Timer Ever,”  It has a clean and simple interface, making it easy to plug in your desired number of work periods, rest periods, and repetitions.
  • Run Half Marathon app features a built-in calendar to schedule your training runs, saves your stats and checks off each completed workout on the calendar—how’s that for a feeling of satisfaction?
  • Full Fitness Choose from 30 workout routines designed by top fitness professionals and tailored to specific goal, whether it’s losing weight, defining your legs, or improving overall fitness.

SO WHAT?

Building stronger, safer, happier and healthier communities means we need to better connect with our surroundings.  Not just our neighbours, but our parks, streets, beaches, rivers, playgrounds and other meeting spaces.  Making it ‘fun’ to get out and meet new people/try new things, is one way of helping to increase this connectedness – and using gamification is a way of incorporating our growing reliance of technology, to be incorporated into this behavior change action.  What do you think?

Smart….SOCKS?

Smart phones, smart cars, smart…socks?  A new item of footwear has been designed to include a sensor that can not only suggest exercise improvements, but also inform the wearer of bad running habits and track recovery from injury.

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Sensoria Fitness Sock

Sensoria Fitness socks can track activity type and level, in-footwear pressure and other interesting data coming from your foot. The product, named after the part of the brain where all nerves in the body come together, connects fabric based sensors to any of your mobile or big screen devices. After over two years of research and development these wearable devices for fitness and healthcare are now ready to be manufactured.

In order to ensure that a persons workflow isn’t disrupted, the sensor technology has been embedded directly in to socks. The data generated by the sensors is collected via an anklet that then transmits securely data via Bluetooth Low Energy to your smartphone.

Spotted by PSFK.com

SO WHAT?

Adapting traditional tools to suit our increasingly technologically driven society, is nothing new.  But making SOCKS the next big thing in data collection and support for health and recreation, is.

Shoes and clothing materials have been evolving to ensure that we can perform to the best of our ability in a variety or extreme circumstances.  Our mobile phones have become tracking and logging devices for our daily activity – so was it a ‘given’ that socks would join the evolution?  If so – what’s next.  We’d love to hear your ideas!

Concussion in Sport – A Growing Concern

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The need to minimise head injuries in sports is stronger than ever. From grass roots sports, through to elite athletes and government organisations, there is a growing awareness of the importance of increasing rules and policies to reduce the level of … Continue reading

94FIFTY – SMART BALLS

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The 94Fifty sensor basketball feels and weighs the same as any basketball. But embedded inside, the ball has an array of 6 sensors, a Bluetooth radio, and battery positioned in a holder engineered to minimize vibrations on the sensors and … Continue reading

PEDOMETERS – The New Fashion Accessory

The desire to track our fitness levels has evolved significantly over the years – it used to be ‘count your steps’ using a pedometer that sat on your hip…but with the advent of smartphones and technology… we wanted MORE.

Below are a number some of the new, trendy and different styles of ‘pedometer’ that can be used not only to count steps, but also track your running, swimming, cycling and other activites whilst linking to your social media and tracking your progress….and they look GOOD.

These are great tools for everyone – from elite athletes through to those of us who just enjoy to participate in active recreation.  Why not try one out with your friends, family or sporting club and see what happens?

Thanks to Mashable, Springwise and other cool sites for finding this information.

The Shine

Small round disc that can be worn on your clothing, on your wrist or in your shoe and tracks your physical activity.

Small round disc that can be worn on your clothing, on your wrist or in your shoe and tracks your physical activity.

Small, trendy, disc-shaped fitness tracker that counts steps, swim strokes AND bike pedals! You can wear this device on your shoe, in your sports bra or anywhere you please…and wherever you wear it, it looks good.

Syncing this device is a breeze – just place it on your smartphone, and a sensor on the device automatically uploads all your data. Set your goals, follow your progress and share the infomration with your friends.

Created by Misfit Wearables.

The Fitbit Zip

The Fitbit has been one of the forerunners into technologically advanced pedometers – and it just keeps evolving.

The FitBit Zip and FitBit One are now equipped with Bluetooth and more social sharing features and runs on a battery that lasts from 4-6 months.

Make sure you check this one out.

Nike+ Fuel Band

nike_fuelband_lThe FuelBand tracks a persons fitness so that they can compare a game of basketball to a dance class, for example.   Nike believes this will provide more precise measurement than simply tracking steps, and allow it to account for the differences across various sports (the device also tracks steps, calories, and time, however).

FuelBand uses red, yellow, or green coloring to let users know how they’re doing toward their goal and helps to motivate people to eercie longer, stronger and harder.

The Fuel Band has integration with Twitter and Facebook, and users can upload their data directly to their PC.

Want more information or inspiration?  Then check out these great innovations:

PINK PAGES – Vol 1, May 2012

Social MediaSETTING AN ATHLETE/COACH SOCIAL MEDIA POLICY

Laws in America are now being passed that prohibits teachers/coaches from contacting students and athletes via private social media.

 This means that Facebook, SMS and direct messaging is not allowed – however they can communicate via a public forum.  So, although social media is a great way to communicate information to members, sporting clubs should be careful.

 USAGymnastics Magazine has provided a number of simple tips for developing a social media policy for clubs.  These tips include:

  •  Communication is public and used for specific purposes such as schedule changes and announcements
  • Coaches should ensure parents are aware that they have access to their child’s online profile
  • Policies need to be clearly outlined to team members AND staff
  • Enforcement and consequences for violations of the policy must b discussed and transparent

Social media is here to stay – and it’s only going to get bigger.  Clubs need to educate staff, volunteers, athletes, supporters and parents about how to safely use and deal with this form of communication.

Local Links:

  1. http://clubsonline.dsr.wa.gov.au/
  2. www.wasportsfed.asn.au
  3. www.dsr.wa.gov.au

PinkeDSR Comments: “Social media is a great tool for sport and recreation clubs to use – as long as they are aware of the pros and cons of the tool, ways of using it effectively and how to deal with any negative use of the tool by their staff, members, supporters or other.

The Department of Sport and Recreation in Western Australia is constantly looking at ways of improving the presence of clubs online – so make sure you check out the hot links above and see what amazing things are happening in the land of social media, around our state.”

Girl doing aerobics‘AEROBIC’ VIDEO GAMES: THE NEXT INFOMERCIAL?  

Research has shown that playing active video games can positively affect the body shape of overweight children through an increase in aerobic capacity.

A controlled trial of the PlayStation EyeToy showed that there was a change in the Body Mass Index of the players after 24 weeks. 

Participants (children aged 10-14 years) were allowed to play as little, or as much active video games as they wanted.  These games included football, boxing, dancing and martial arts.

Results showed:

  • Active video games play was sustained at higher levels than baseline at both 12 and 24 week measures
  • Children were meeting the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity per day
  • Future trials should examine other mediators related to this type of intervention including attitudes or preference for physical activity, or changes in sedentary behaviour

PinkeDSR Comments:

“The question to ask is, will we next see these games being advertised as the ‘new ab-roller’?  Will morning TV shows offer games as the way to wash-board abs? Is this actually a BAD thing, as long as it motivates people to move?”

  
Old Mac ComputerTRUE OR FALSE: OLDER PEOPLE AREN’T ACTIVE ONLINE?

FALSE! A recent report shows that the number of people aged 65+ has almost doubled between 2007 and 2011.

 COTA Victoria and Ellis Jones found that 85% of the Victorian over 55’s who answered the survey, are actively using the internet.  The number of users over 65 has increased from 29.8% to 56.7% in only four years, whilst those aged 50-64 has grown by 22.3% during the same period.

 The report also confirms that older people use the internet to stay in touch with their family and friends; to seek out help from government services and to get involved in conversations that they might not be able to access otherwise:

 Almost two-thirds of survey respondents admitted they were happy to leave comments and feedback online, with 71% saying that they felt ‘acknowledged’ because of this opportunity to engage with other people.

  • The biggest barrier faced by older users is the lack of knowledge and understanding about the level of security on internet sites – although online banking and travel bookings are their main reason for using the internet!
  • Although they are actively shopping and banking online, almost half (40%) also have Facebook profiles and 20% enjoy searching and watching videos on YouTube.  Far less are using Twitter and LinkedIn – but then these tools aren’t targeted at retirees.

A key finding of the report is that “Respondents believe having access to the internet makes them feel more informed, more engaged and more empowered – and they like the idea of governments engaging with them online” because of this!

Local Links:

  1. Seniors Recreation Council of WA
  2. COTA Victoria

PinkeDSR Comments: “Our population is ageing, and as this occurs our seniors groups consist of people who are increasingly savvy users of the internet and technology. 

It is important that the sport and recreation industry embraces this shift in demographics, and uses these tools to continue to support, encourage, motivate and engage people in sport and active recreation activities.”

 
Neighbours 1EVERYBODY NEEDS GOOD (ONLINE) NEIGHBOURS

Nextdoor.com is an online meeting place that makes it easy for people to connect with their neighbours – even borderline recluses are welcome.

There’s a common misreading that technology inevitably leads to the decline of the local community.  I don’t believe that. Technology can be harnessed to facilitate local interactions.” Professor Robert J. Sampson.

And so, Nextdoor.com was born.  According to the chief executive of Nextdoor, Nirav Tolia, as we get holder, the community that becomes most valuable to us is the one we live in, and so this site provides a ‘map’ of neighbours in your area who are members – creating another way of interacting and bonding.

  • Nextdoor.com currently has more than 2,000 American households (each containing approximately 500-750 households)
  • A house-by-house map of neighbours – although you can choose not to have your name attached
  • A forum for posting items of interest, sharing recipes and events, classifieds for buying and selling or even giving things away; and a database of user-recommended local services
  • New members must prove they actually live at their claimed address
  • Pages are all private – only fellow members can see who else is online – and none of the information appears on search engine results
  • Updates and posts can be viewed online, via email posts or through SMS
  • The service is free, however they plan to enlist local businesses to give members special offers
  • Nextdoor.com has created something Facebook no longer is: an online network defined by real life proximity.

Local Links

  1. ActiveSmart

PinkeDSR Comments: “Creating community through the use of technology and online ‘social sites’ in the real world – what a challenge!  But it seems that we are slowly overcoming our fear of the unknown, the virtual world, and embracing the opportunities that it presents.

Online dating is seen as one of the preferred ways that people meet their life-partner – so why not create a space that brings neighbours together as well?

There is plenty of opportunity for sport and recreation to get on board here – whether it is through the Nextddor.com site OR in its own specially designed online world.”

 
Virtual PersonDEALING WITH DEPRESSION IN A VIRTUAL WORLD 

3D fantasy worlds are giving young people the tools and confidence to deal with mental health issues.

A 3D fantasy game has been developed by the University of Auckland, to teach young people with mental health issues, skills to help build their confidence.

SPARX (Smart, Positive, Active & Realistic X-Factor thoughts) has gamified the real world to change mundane tasks and lessons into fun, interactive tasks – but it is the provision of health benefits that is ensuring gamification is here to stay (as proven by Cambridge Consultants T-Haler project). 

  • Players choose their own ‘avatar’ which they manoeuvre through a number of ‘provinces’ that relate to various problems they may experience when dealing with mental health issues. 
  • Examples include the Volcano Province which deals with disruptive emotions, whilst on other levels they fight GNATS (Gloomy Negative Automatic Thoughts).
  • The pilot has been tested on 187 youth with vary degrees of depression.  Half of the participants were given typical treatment and the other half played the game.
  • Although both groups experienced reduced anxiety levels, the game players experienced higher levels of remission rates.

Local Links:

  1. Act Belong Commit
  2. Beyond Blue
  3. Nature Play WA

PinkeDSR Comments: Gamification is a tool that can be used as a positive driver of physical activity.  Take geocaching for example.  Kids and adults can use their smart phones to get outside, do a worldwide treasure hunt and enjoy/explore the area – wherever they are.

There is also a large amount of research taking place that shows the use of exergaming (using consoles such as the Kinect and WiiFit) is a positive influencer of peoples involvement in physical activity and increases social interaction and mental alertness. 

This is definitely something that can be used successfully within the sport and recreation environment – what sort of ideas do you have for its use!?”

Running GroupALTERNATIVE TRANSPORT: WHEN THE TRAINS AREN’T RUNNING, IT DOESN’T MEAN YOU CAN’T RUN!

London leads the way with organised group runs that operate at the end of each working day and follow popular bus and train routes.

Overcrowded public transport and increasing obesity issues – two factors which affect our quality of life, but could possibly be alleviated through the new, innovative and simple ‘group running’ idea Home Run.

We are constantly told that using public transport is of great benefit not only to our personal wellbeing, but also to the environment and so London has introduced guided group runs that allow people to get home powered by their own two legs.

Group guided runs offer a number of benefits including:

  • Safety in numbers
  • Guided and popular routes – most run along the same popular route that their bus or train may have taken anyway
  • Support crew to carry your clothing and work bags – no more carrying heavy backpacks (cargo bicycles)
  • Social interaction with other people – building new relationships, and
  • Reduced congestion on public transport.

Local Links:

  1. TravelSmart
  2. Transperth Sardines

PinkeDSR Comments: “Western Australia is a great place for this type of idea – our climate, roads, scenery and love of sport and physical activity means that this is something that could work well – not only in the metro area, but also within regional towns.

How about speaking to your local government, workplace health coordinator or colleagues about getting something up and ‘running’ in your area?  Are there any programs or ideas that you think might work in your community/workplace?”

 

A few bite size bits to chew over :)

A few short, sweet and thought-provoking pieces of research that we’ve uncovered during the past week.  Enjoy at your leisure, or click on the links provided to find out more information!

VOLUNTEERING  Encouraging Involvement in Big Society – Cultural and Sporting Perspectives

The ‘Big Society’ was the flagship policy idea of the 2012 UK Conservative Party’s election manifesto which aims to “create a climate that empowers local people and communities, building a big society that will take the ‘power away from politicians’ and give it to the people”. One of its’ key priorities is to “Encourage people to take an active role in their communities (volunteerism).”

A survey conducted in 2011, provided a detailed demographic profile of those contributing to the Big Society from the sport and culture sectors:

  • 87% of population is engaged in some way in culture and sport.
  • 7.3% of population volunteers.
  • 10% of 16-24 year olds volunteer.  7.3% is the average across all ages.
  • 7% of 45-64 year olds volunteers.
  • 67.2% of volunteers are employed and are more likely to be ‘wealthy achievers’ than non volunteers.
  • Almost two-thirds of volunteers, volunteer in the sport industry.

How do these figures relate to YOUR club or sport?  For more information, visit TNS UK Limited to read the entire report.

DIGITAL KIDS Teen-only gym: Virtual reality, real sweat

Mountain View, California opened its first teen-only gym called ‘Overtime’ in 2006.  It was age restricted to 13-18 year olds and was designed to appeal to the children of parents who lived and worked in the hometown of ‘Google’.

The gym uses technology and video games – combined with traditional gym machines –  to encourage kids to workout and is designed to bridge the gap between traditional arcade and health-club operators and present exergaming as a legitimate tool for encouraging physical activities in children!

Something to consider as an additional tool in your training programs?

BEHAVIOUR CHANGE TOOLS When will we see gamification in government?

Gamification is the practice of using achievement-based rewards for non-game activities. For example completing a project or mission at work sees the awarding of a ‘completion badge (letter, award, and medal) and it is now being recommended as an effective behavior modification tool. 

Rapid gratification for small and ongoing achievements means behavior patterns are reinforced at a deeper level and result in increased likelihood of the behavior being repeated or becoming ongoing.

Is there potential for gamification to be used in government, with staff rewarded for increasing skill levels, completing ministerial responses in a timely fashion, or writing briefs?

For more information, please visit: Craig Thromler, eGov AU, www.egovau.blogspot.com.au January 27, 2012

MENTAL HEALTH The Reciprocal Relationship Between Physical Activity and Depression in Older Adults.

The link between physical activity levels and depression was studied over a 2-year period with a total of 17,593 men and women involved in the study ranging in age between 50 and 102 years. Testing showed there were some differences for age, but not for gender.

Measures included affective suffering and motivational depression, and used self-reported frequency of moderate and vigorous physical activity with results indicating that higher levels of physical activity were associated with lower levels of depression both at baseline, and two years later.

Although physical activity could reduce depressive symptoms in older adulthood, it can also act as a barrier to engaging in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity behaviours and so deserves to be studied further within this area.

Reference: Lindwall, M., Larsman, P., & Hagger, M.S (2011) Health Psychology Magazine 30 – 453-462

Any comments, questions or recommendations are all greatly appreciated!  As is your recommendation of DSRPinkiesWorld to your friends, family and colleagues.