Can surfing the web help you lose weight? It’s possible, according to new research from the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research (KPCHR).

It’s been said that working from home can be detrimental to your weight loss efforts because it’s too easy to get to the kitchen for a snack. But virtual offices facilitate weight loss if Kaiser’s research bears out.

KPCHR designed a web site that blends accountability with sociability. Users in the study logged in once a week to share their weight and how much they exercised. If they didn’t log in, they were politely reminded by e-mail and then an automated phone call. Users could support each other though Internet chat in a Facebook-like setting.

Of the 1,600 overweight or obese users, 350 lost about 19 pounds in the first six months. At the conclusion of the two and a half year study, those users who logged on regularly kept of most of the weight. Although study authors don’t believe the web replaces personal interaction, it seems to work better than going it alone.

Working from home in a virtual office—or living the road warrior lifestyle—can leave you without much accountability in your personal life. Sure, your boss or your clients can see that you are working from your virtual office with presence technologies on Instant Messaging, or by simply calling you on the phone in between flights. Virtual offices can help you be more productive on the business side.

Now, it seems working from a virtual office could also give you the freedom to engage in Internet-based programs that help you stay on track with personal goals. While your employer may not let you sign on to Facebook from work, for example, when you telecommute from a virtual office you can freely log on to Web-based communities that can offer the accountability and sociability you need to support you in just about any goal.

It’s not all about weight loss. There are online communities and accountability partners that can help push you toward your goal in just about any area of your life. Working from a virtual office helps you maximize your time management program because you don’t have to travel to and from work, and helps you maximize your productivity while you are on the road. With the time you save using virtual office technologies, you can even tap into web-based communities to learn new business skills.

Check out this video on exercises you can do from the office: