If you’re having trouble getting off the couch, some extra scratch might encourage you into exercising. In short, a new review study from Canada published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine says you can essentially be bribed into working out.
Financial incentive-based public health strategies have targeted weight loss and quitting smoking in North America for years. “People’s actions tend to serve their immediate self-interest at the expense of long-term wellbeing,” said Marc Mitchell, lead author of the study. “This is often the case for exercise, where the costs are experienced in the present and the benefits are delayed. Because of this, many adults postpone exercise.”
The big risk seems to be adults who have had a heart attack or are at risk of heart disease. Many adults who go through cardiac rehab don’t continue their exercise regimen when they leave. “The financial-incentives model gives us an additional strategy to help more people fully engage with the life-saving care we provide,” said Dr. Paul Oh, the Medical Director of the Cardiovascular Prevention and Rehabilitation Program at Toronto Rehab.
“Our research suggests that providing incentives in the short-term increases the amount of exercise people do – there is also potential to drive long-term change, but that will need to be studied further,” said Mitchell. “The sustained behavior change we are seeking could save our health system millions by preventing repeat heart events.”