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Have you planked today?

Posted by Elizabeth Comeau  February 13, 2012 11:29 AM

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Sherry Pagoto, a psychologist at the Weight Center at UMass Memorial Medical Center, and a friend started tweeting about their ab workouts to keep each other on track. They pledged in June to do at least one plank exercise each day. When it was done, they sent out a message with the hashtag #PlankADay.

Today, about 2,100 people have started planking and tweeting with them, even participating in plank-at-work days and sending action photos.

"I can't stop planking now," said Pagoto.

Pagoto is a weight-loss counselor who studies how technology can be used to change people's behavioral choices, yet she said the mini Twitter movement she and Michael Bauman, a financial planner who lives outside of Detroit, started was "totally unintentional."

Their example speaks to how health professionals and lay people alike can leverage the power of social media as a tool to motivate, peer-pressure and (gently) prod people toward healthier living.

Pagoto started a database to track who was tweeting using the #PlankADay tag. (Hashtags make tweets more searchable and more visible in public feeds.) She and Bauman started a Twitter account for the Plank Police and use it to send reminders to people who miss more than two days of planking.

"It's amazing -- the power of social media to infect people with healthy lifestyle changes," Pagoto said.

Chelsea Conaboy can be reached at cconaboy@boston.com. Follow her on Twitter @cconaboy.

Staying fit is an important part of staying healthy. This blog will offer exercise tips from experts as well as share the personal journeys of Globe staff members committed to fitness. No matter your age or energy level, we invite you to join in and share your own story. How do you find time to work out? What are your daily challenges? Let us know and read along -- and together, we can all get moving.

CONTRIBUTORS

Elizabeth Comeau is a social media marketing manager at Boston.com. She will be blogging about her personal fitness journey and using a device called a FitBit to track her weekly goals and progress (see below). Follow her journey and share your own. Read more about Elizabeth and this blog.

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