Struggling to Reach Exercise Goals? Put Money on the Line

What's Hot

How to Cut the Cable TV Cord in 2017Family

8 Major Freebies and Discounts You Get With Amazon PrimeSave

Study: People Who Curse Are More HonestFamily

8 Creative Ways to Clear ClutterAround The House

15 Things You Should Always Buy at a Dollar StoreMore

Pay $2 and Get Unlimited Wendy’s Frosty Treats in 2017Family

5 Reasons to Shop for a Home in DecemberFamily

This Free Software Brings Old Laptops Back to LifeMore

Should You Donate to Wreaths Across America? A Lesson in Charitable GivingAround The House

6 Reasons Why Savers Are Sexier Than SpendersCredit & Debt

Resolutions 2017: Save More Money Using 5 Simple TricksCredit & Debt

10 Free Things That Used to Cost MoneyAround The House

7 New Year’s Resolutions to Make With Your KidsFamily

10 Simple Money Moves to Make Before the New YearFamily

The 3 Golden Rules of Lending to Friends and FamilyBorrow

Risking one's pocketbook is among the most effective ways to incentivize people to get more exercise, new research indicates.

Risking one’s pocketbook is among the most effective ways to incentivize people to get more exercise, new research indicates.

A study out of the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine tested the effectiveness of financial incentives to increase exercise among overweight and obese adults.

The results, published by the Annals of Internal Medicine on Tuesday, show that the most effective financial incentive tested was risking a loss of money. In the study, this incentive entailed giving participants a lump sum of money at the start of the study and taking away a portion of that reward each day they failed to meet their exercise goals.

All 281 participants were given the same goal of reaching 7,000 steps per day, and their progress was tracked using a smartphone app. (The average U.S. adult takes 5,000 steps per day, according to a news release from the University of Pennsylvania.)

Participants were randomly assigned to one of four groups:

  • A control group, whose members received no financial incentive.
  • A gain incentive group, whose members received $1.40 for each day that the goal was achieved (equal to $42 per month).
  • A lottery incentive group, whose members were offered entry into a daily lottery with a possible prize that averaged $1.40 each day that the goal was achieved.
  • A loss incentive group, whose members were given $42 at the start of each month and had $1.40 taken away from them for each day the goal was not achieved.

Members of the first three groups achieved the daily goal about 30 to 35 percent of the time, while members of the loss incentive group achieved the goal 45 percent of the time. In other words, participants who were at risk of losing money achieved their goals almost 50 percent more often than the other participants.

Senior author Dr. Kevin G. Volpp, professor of medicine and health care management and director of the Penn Center for Health Incentives and Behavioral Economics, notes that the study results could inform workplace wellness programs, which typically offer a reward after a goal is achieved.

“Our findings demonstrate that the potential of losing a reward is a more powerful motivator and adds important knowledge to our understanding of how to use financial incentives to encourage employee participation in wellness programs.”

Are you surprised by these findings? Share your thoughts below or on Facebook.

Stacy Johnson

It's not the usual blah, blah, blah

I know... every site you visit wants you to subscribe to their newsletter. But our news and advice is actually worth reading! For 25 years, I've been making people richer without making their eyes glaze over. You'll be glad you did. I guarantee it!


Read Next: 9 Ways to Build Willpower That Creates Success

Check Out Our Hottest Deals!

We're always adding new deals and coupons that'll save you big bucks. See the deals to the right and hundreds more in our Deals section.

Click here to explore 1,815 more deals!