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Could you lose weight just by watching your avatar work out?

One of the few things you cannot pay someone to do for you is work out. All the miracle pills, revolutionary dance classes and new-age machines may help but if you still think there’s a quick fix (that doesn’t involve surgery) you may just be proved right. Temple University’s Center for Obesity Research and Education have discovered that watching your avatar exert itself can lead to weight loss in the real world.

The research shows that women who spend at least fifteen minutes a week watching their exercising  avatar, demonstrate some weight loss as a result – an average of 3.5 pounds a month. This was a result of  subtle weight loss ‘behaviors’ including portion control but not all of the weight lost can be attributed completely to real world changes. Visualisation has been cited for some of the weight loss. The 128 women who participated in the study could chose the look, colour and general appearance of their avatar to make it more closely resemble themselves and watched the avatar participate in healthy activities such as walking and portion control at meal times. The women had set their own weight loss goals and through tracking their progress, the study identified the affect of watching the avatar over the month-long test.

The women did not have to manipulate the avatar’s movements, they simply watched them for fifteen minutes once a week and were in turn affected by the healthy choices their avatar made. Melissa Napolitano, an associate professor who led the study told Cnet.com – “This small study suggests that virtual reality could be a promising new tool for building healthier habits.”

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