A review study published today finds that financial incentives -as modest as $5 per week - can increase the amount of exercise people do.
Lead author Marc Mitchell, University of Toronto PhD candidate and Cardiac Rehabilitation Supervisor at Toronto Rehab, worked under the leadership of University of Toronto exercise psychologist Guy Faulkner and exercise physiologist Jack Goodman to publish these findings in the September online publication of The American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
The review study looked at 1,500 patients.
"The time commitment and discomfort of exercise prevents many adults from starting regular exercise," said Mitchell. "For those who do start, most drop out within six months."
Financial incentive-based public health strategies have gained popularity in North America in recent years, with smoking and weight loss being the more popular targets.
"People's actions tend to serve their immediate self-interest at the expense of long-term wellbeing," said Mitchell. "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."
This study was mainly done at Toronto Rehab's Cardiovascular Prevention and Rehabilitation Program to help understand the conditions which might increase cardiac rehab adherence for patients who have had a cardiovascular event or are at risk of cardiovascular disease.