From virtual to real

Here’s a news story that really caught my eye this morning – discussing the idea that activities you do in virtual worlds can have tangible benefits in real life.

It’s interesting that scientists have been doing studies based on virtual worlds – and also that their conclusions suggest a mixture of virtual and real-world activities can be particularly effective, which is an idea I’ve come across several times now.

Here’s the story from the BBC:

Virtual gym ‘helps weight loss’

Regular visits to a health club in the online virtual world Second Life appear to help shed the pounds in real life, say exercise scientists.

Participants in two 12-week weight loss programmes – one real, and one online – lost similar amounts of weight.

Indiana University researchers told a conference that confidence and motivation built in the virtual gym continued in normal life.

A UK psychologist said mixing online and real world support might work best. Read full story here…

I no longer have anything to do with Second Life (though I do now have an Inworldz account) because I have a profound problem with the way owners Linden Labs run it. However I did spend a period of time being quite intensely involved.

When I quit, in order to make the decision a bit less painful, I made a list of the activities that I had been spending my time on with the aim of continuing them in some other way. It seemed to me that one of the most valuable lessons I had learned from the experience was about things that I would like to do, but lacked the confidence to do.

And, guess what? As a result, I’m now regularly doing several of them. My personal, if anecdotal, experience chimes very closely with the findings of the study.

It’s made me dig out that list and remind myself what else I ought to be thinking about taking up in real life…