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#GetFit Launch Announced to Harness Social Media for Health Promotion and Behavior Change

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The 3rd annual #GetFit campaign is set to be the biggest yet. It launches on May, 28.

GE Healthcare’s use of social media in its annual #GetFit competition has far reaching significance to the 25.5 million participants* worldwide, who have used the social networks to take part, interact, and engage with others to promote awareness about helping cancer prevention through healthy living. The competition launches on May, 28.

This year’s #GetFit will continue to leverage the power of the social media channels that include Instagram, Sina Weibo in China and Twitter. Here, the #GetFit campaign encourages participants to share their healthy habits and join in the challenge via social media.

Rapid and innovative advances in social media have opened up opportunities for modifying health behavior. According to Nathan Cobb of the Georgetown University School of Medicine and Chief Medical Officer at MeYou Health, the use of social media in campaigns such as GetFit can promote log-term changes in behavior that benefit the health and wellbeing of the individual. 

“Facebook’s ability to identify not just your friends, but the patterns of connections between your friends, allows for incredible potential in health behavior interventions,” he explained.

“We know that many behaviors and conditions – for example smoking and obesity – tend to cluster within social networks. An application that use Facebook to spread virally between smokers within clusters would be a significant innovation.”

The World Health Organization (WHO) believes around 30% of cancers are preventable through a healthy lifestyle and regular exercise**. With the goal to spread a positive message across the world, for the third year #GetFit challenges participants to share their ways of staying healthy and getting fit. The campaign uses the power of collective wisdom, online social interactions propelled by peer-to peer networks to encourage healthier lifestyles. 

It is well known that lifestyle decisions and creating healthy habits reduce the risk of cancer*** and positively impact general health. Awareness around prevention and implementing a regular personal monitoring routine are also important. What is also imperative is how that message is conveyed through various social mediums. Online communities with robust communications develop a number of advantages that can be difficult to replicate in other forms of social media (e.g blogs). Large online communities develop their own sets of norms of behavior that in turn may impact how new and existing members make decisions. These network effects, in addition to the provision of active social support, are likely critical drivers for the effect of online communities.

GE Healthcare’s virtual roundtable in October last year, which consisted of academic, physician and communications experts, agreed and outlined that the more social you are, the more likely you are to achieve your health goals using social networking sites to support you.

Cobb, who was part of the virtual roundtable, went on to explain that a generation of work had tied social ties and interactions to improved health outcomes. “People who have fewer or less rich social ties and interactions tend to be less healthy and live shorter lives. But this is observational data – the real question has been if making people more social, connecting with more people and enriching their communications and interactions can actually change their health outcomes.”

“Many people, myself included, think that this is possible and the online social networks and social media provide a novel opportunity to do so, but the jury is still out,” he added.

 

References

* – GE Healthcare

**/*** – http://www.who.int/cancer/prevention/en/

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The #GetFit campaign places an emphasis on sharing healthy habits and physical activity