Study: Losing money is best incentive for exercise

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Now that Mother Nature is teasing us with spring-like weather it's a good time to renew that New Year's resolution about getting more exercise.

Fitbit-type exercise trackers are becoming more and more common, recording our waking and sleeping, counting steps and even posting our accomplishments or failures on the Internet.

But a nagging watch isn't always enough incentive to get us off the couch and into an exercise mode.

When it comes to a carrot-and-stick approach to exercise, the stick seems to be more effective, according to a new study in the Annals if Internal Medicine.

Dr. Mitesh Patel of the Perelman School of Medicine and Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, led a study that concluded people are motivated best by receiving instant gratification and by avoiding loss.

The researchers challenged 281 overweight and obese people to walk 7,000 steps a day, tracked for 13 weeks through their smartphones.

Some of the people were rewarded by simply being told they had met their goal. Others were entered into a cash lottery. A third group was given $1.40 each day they met the goal. A fourth group was given $42 at the start of the study and had $1.40 deducted for every day they fell short.

The first three groups met the goal about a third of the time. The folks who stood to lose money met the goal 45 percent of the time.

McCook is blessed with many opportunities for staying in shape, from YMCA facilities, coed sports and youth sports; to private health clubs; the city's walking trail, city parks and Senior Center activities, leaving little excuse for living a sedentary lifestyle.

Promoting healthy living is always a good idea, whether it's on our own, for our families or for employees sharing a health insurance plan. Patel's study provides a little more ammunition in that effort.

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