Despite the fact that we’ve known for decades how important exercise is for us, few of us actually seem to care. The fact that it improves your health and that it generally helps you lead a happier life doesn’t seem to be a factor either. Over 50% of American adults don’t get nearly as much exercise as they should. In order to attempt to change that, a study shows what type of incentive gets people to exercise.
Incentives and fitness
Since so many American adults are leaving inferiorly healthy lifestyles because of their lack of exercise, some employers are willing to use financial incentives to motivate their employees to work out more. For this, a study tested three different types of financial incentives in order to figure out which one would work best.
Because businesses need to understand how their employees’ motivational system works, they needed help from Dr. Mitesh Patel, who is associated with a number of institutions revolving around physical health, and is even a professor of Medicine and Health Care Management and a physician.
For this, Dr. Patel and his team looked at a sample consisting of 281 participants, each given the same fitness goal – 7,000 steps every day for 26 weeks. The participants were randomly divided into four groups for the first 13 weeks, each with different incentives.
After the 13 weeks, the incentives would no longer be offered, but they would still be monitored and given performance feedbacks based on a smart phone app they all had to install.
What actually worked
The four groups were managed as such:
- the first group was the Control Group, and no incentive was offered;
- the second group was the Lottery Incentive Group, in which the participants were given the chance to win a daily lottery offering winnings of $1.40
- the third group was the Gain Incentive Group, in which the participants were given $1.40 each day ($42 every month)
- the fourth group was the Loss Incentive Group, in which the participants were given $42 every month, but they would lose $1.40 for every day they failed to meet the goal
As it turns out, the second and third groups had pretty much the same results, with the participants only meeting the goal in about 30-35% of the days. Meanwhile, the participants that were at risk of losing the money were successful 45% of the time, about 50% more than the control group.
This shows that the fear of losing something is a far more effective motivator than the joy of earning that same thing.
Image source: Flickr