Physical fitness and working out is a different journey for just about everyone. We all know it is important, but some are more excited about it than others. For many, it is a part of their everyday life; they enjoy it and need it. For others, it seems like torture and finding motivation is very hard. Still, others fall somewhere in between. Figuring out what motivates you is key and the truth is that money can be a great motivational tool! But, are people really motivated to workout for cash?

From the expert

Dr. Neel Choksi, Assistant Professor of Clinical Medicine in Cardiology Studies and the Medical Director of the Penn Sports Cardiology and Fitness Program said the answer is “Yes.” His 2018 study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association found that participants wearing fitness trackers paired with a “little cold, hard cash” might give people that push to start a regular exercise routine. The trial involved 105 subjects wearing step trackers for 24 weeks. Payments were given and taken away based on whether their daily step goals were reached or not. One group (the control) was not offered money for reaching their step goals, the other group was.

Over the six month trial, the group that received money totaled about 100 more miles on average than the group that received no financial rewards. The researchers found that the combination of financial rewards with personalized goal setting was effective. Interestingly enough, the group that was offered financial incentives still averaged more steps per day even when the rewards were taken away over those who were never offered the cash.

Many insurance companies have caught on as well, United Health Care and Cigna offer financial incentives, or “healthy rewards” to their customers who meet certain criteria; such as getting their annual well check, mammogram, taking part in their healthy weight programs, having annual lab work, being a non-smoker, etc. These values add up in your personal health account and can often reduce your out of pocket expenses or can be redeemed for gift cards.

Can you participate?

Many workplaces are also joining in the fun. Employees at UF Health can earn accolades for fitness in their walking challenge. Teams from different departments at the University of Florida keep track of their daily steps and compete against each other. The winning teams have their name added to a trophy and of course earn major bragging rights on campus. “It motivates me to get my steps in because I’m accountable to my co-workers,” said Susan Barefoot, an RN with UF Women’s Health. “We were the winners last fall and Team Ova-Achievers wants to keep the trophy!”

by April Tisher