A recent study showed that financial or charitable-giving incentives motivated adults to move more. In a 16 week study, 94 adults aged 65 and older were given pedometers and challenged to increase their daily steps by 50%. Participants were assigned to one of four groups.
Control: received weekly feedback on progress
Financial: received a $20 reward
Social-Goals: received $20 donation to charity
Combined: received $20 that they could choose to cheep, donate to charity, or split between themselves and the charity
All three incentive groups met the step goal on more days than the control group. The financial group took more than double the steps taken by the control group, and the social-goals group eked out a few hundred steps more per day than the financial group. The combined group walked less than the other two incentive groups but still more than the control group.
That said, a 4-week postintervention follow-up found no difference in steps among the four groups, with all three incentive groups dropping back to the same level as the controls.
How do you feel about these results? It seems that incentive schemes can increase adults levels of walking, but only temporarily. What would be a more long term plan for success in increasing activity.
The study appeared in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine (2017; http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.amepre.2016.11.011).