A Creative Way to Utilize Social Media to Enhance Fitness and Health Knowledge

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As youth are becoming less active and more obese, America is ever increasingly becoming a country of nonmovers (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2010; Child Trends Data Bank, 2010; Haynie, 2010). The burden of reversing this trend has been placed primarily on physical education. To complicate matters, regular funding reductions means that physical educators must do more with less. In response to this challenge, one approach to enhancing opportunities for youth fitness has been to increase offerings through nontraditional and innovative programming (Debate et al., 2009). On this view physical education-based activities could include: physical activity programs, after school programs, sports clubs, or incentive programs. Such programming typically relies on competition or external factors to prompt student participation. Social-based programming or offerings that may intrinsically prompt student engagement can also be used to enhance learning (Bandura, 1986; Cobb, 1994).

Applying notions of social engagement to the physical fitness setting could expand opportunities for student participation and engagement. By utilizing such an approach, physical fitness and health educators have observed that ample social support provides a rich foundation for offering fundamental fitness activities (Frimming, Polsgrove, & Bennett, 2010; Gruber, 2008; Ince, 2008). From this perspective it could be thought that the establishment of a positive social network focused on increasing self-efficacy by exchanging and sharing fitness and health information could help increase a student's fitness and health knowledge. Students with an increased fitness and health knowledge may in turn be empowered to apply these ideas to their daily lifestyles (Demetriou & H6ner, 2012; Kyburien, Senikas, & Senikien, 2009; Weidong, Bo, Rukavina, & Haichun, 2011).

Lave and Wenger (1991) identify a community of practice as consisting of old and new members. Membership in a community of practice is a dynamic representation. If a community were defined by a circle, new members enter in the center. New members progress outward from the center as they gain valuable experience and knowledge while interacting with others. In this model, more senior members are those who are farthest from the center. Oldest members, therefore, are those who are on the outer limits of the circle and likely to exit the community. Through the process of sharing, interacting and modeling active community, members embody aspects of their predecessors and evolve these practices to become their own. Through applying this theoretical social-based framework for a community of practice to the school setting, it is thought that student members' knowledge and attitudes toward participation could be enhanced.

A community of fitness and health could be composed of students of varying classes or members of a club or program. The senior members would be considered those who are more experienced, older students who have gained knowledge or developed the ability to apply learned fitness and health concepts. Similarly, new members are defined as those students who enrolled in the introductory courses and who have little experience in applying concepts to solve health and fitness concerns. Ideally, by observing and interacting with senior members in a positive social environment new students may more likely overcome potential fitness and health knowledge barriers. With social support and opportunities for meaningful interaction, it is believed that new members might be more likely to develop the knowledge and skills needed for a more effective health and fitness lifestyle.

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Communities of practice are typically individuals of similar interests who interact in relation to a common purpose. Examples could include members of a trade union, players on a college soccer team, or board officials. …