We’re all motivated to maintain our fitness regimes for different reasons. For some, it’s a mental image of how much better we’ll look and feel. For others, it’s the idea of crossing the finish line of a marathon. Though for many, incentives to stay fit and healthy need to be a little more tangible!
A new study shows that giving someone a financial incentive and then threatening to take it away, can have a huge impact on their enthusiasm when it comes to exercise!
Only six months ago, the World Health Organisation predicted that 60% of us would be overweight by the year 2030. Since then, workplace wellness programs have gained popularity, and more than 80% of large businesses are now using financial rewards to encourage their employees to stay in shape.
The 13 week study gave 281 people a target of achieving 7,000 steps per day. Three financial incentives were given:
Group 1 received $1.40 on each day that they hit the 7,000-step goal.
Group 2 were given the money the day after they’d hit the 7,000 steps.
Group 3 were given $42 upfront each month, and $1.40 was taken away each day the goal was not met.
Researchers found that the prospect of losing money led people to exercise more than any of the other incentives. This implies that we’re motivated more by the idea of losing money, than making it. We also want to be rewarded for our hard work immediately, rather than wait for it (often the case with personal training clients hoping for instant results and quickly becoming demotivated!).
The findings suggest that the way a financial reward is packaged up, is crucial to how effective it is. It’s essentially the same reward, just offered in three different ways.
For the fitness industry, this has huge potential for helping to motivate the obese, or those suffering from obesity related illnesses to get up, out and move more. Whilst we’d all love to be motivated by the idea of simply being fitter and healthier, these days, we need a little more of a push to get started.