Virtual fitness: Working out with high-tech help
November 16, 1999
Web posted at: 11:11 a.m. EST (1611 GMT)
From Medical Correspondent Holly Firfer
(CNN) -- It's the wave of the future: Fitness just a mouse click away.
"I don't have to leave the house; I don't have to get dressed; I don't have to put makeup on," says Cindy Bailo.
That's why Bailo, a self-described yo-yo exerciser from Michigan, goes online to get in shape.
She found four workout buddies on the Internet: one in Florida, one in Toronto, one in Wyoming and one in Montana.
Although they have never met in person, they talk daily to encourage and challenge each other, share fitness tips and give each other support.
"I think they have unconditional motivation and positive reinforcement," Bailo said. "They are all there for you all the time. I feel like they are not going to know me; they are not going to judge me; they don't know what I look like or what mood I am in."
It is working. With encouragement and information from her new friends, Bailo has created a regular exercise program and has lost 23 pounds in six months.
"One of the great problems with fitness is motivation," said sports medicine physician Ken Burres. "We need to give them a method that's fun, that's easy and that's convenient."
Competition via computer
Although Garrett Marecki lives in Atlanta, he is racing someone in Los Angeles.
They are competing through a software program from UltraCOACH. The eight-mile bike ride through an Olympic biking course allows them to exercise in a safe, new environment, with a competitive edge.
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"It's like playing an interactive video game, only you are getting some good benefits out of it: You are not just building strong thumbs; you are actually getting cardiovascular health," Marecki said.
With about 38 million pieces of exercise equipment in America, many of which hold laundry, this new trend of using the Internet to shape up leaves fitness experts thrilled with the ultimate goal of a healthier nation.
"Any new thing -- as long as it is safe and sound and provides results -- I think it's good, because we always need to change things up and make it interesting," said exercise physiologist Bob Greene.
Although virtual fitness is a fairly new trend, experts predict our entire lives may be wrapped up in computers as we use them to work, and work out.
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