Running may be socially infectious.
Researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Sloan School of Management, gathered five years’ worth of data from 1.1 million runners from around the globe and found that how much we exercise depends on our responses to other people’s training.
By tracking data from a global social network of workout routines, scientists tracked people’s habits and athletic prowess. They found that runners influence one another. If one person ran for 10 minutes longer than usual on any given day, that runner’s friends would likely lengthen their workout by three minutes as not to fall behind. Even if your friend lived in an area that didn’t have optimal running weather, like rain, they would still run to increase their competitive athletic score.
If one friend who previously was doing bad all-of-a-sudden starts doing better and showing signs of overtaking a friend’s performance, the threat of falling behind would motivate the friends to run harder.
Gender also plays a role in running behavior. Men will run faster and longer if their male and female friends had done likewise. While female runners were only concerned in response to changes among their female, not male, friends.
The overall findings only apply to people who already are runners. The researchers cannot tell whether other types of exercise are equally contagious or how social exercise affects inactive people. However, the scientist plan to use more social media data for future study.
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