Skip to content
  1. Latest From the Blog

CHIBE study shows incentives, games help increase physical activity

a man running in front of a body of water and mountains

A CHIBE study called “BE ACTIVE” led by Drs. Alexander Fanaroff and Kevin Volpp found that financial incentives and gamification elements helped increase physical activity in patients who have encountered a serious heart problem in the past or who have a high risk of serious heart problems.

What the study looked at

We know that people who do more physical activity have a lower risk of serious heart problems, but most people don’t walk enough. We wanted to test different ways to increase walking for people who had a serious heart problem in the past or who have a risk of serious heart problems.

Everyone in the study received a FitBit watch to count steps and then were randomly placed into 1 of 4 groups:

The control group wore the FitBit to count steps and meet step goals.

The game group played a game where they could keep points and gain levels by meeting their step goals.

The financial group earned money for meeting their step goals.

The combined group earned money and played a game that rewarded them for meeting steps goals.

What the team thought might happen

We predicted that people in the game group, the financial group, or the combined group would do better hitting their step goals compared to the control group.

What the results were

The results of the study confirmed our prediction. The combined group did the best at hitting step goals during the 12-month study. The combined group also continued to walk more during the 6-month follow-up period. The game and financial groups also walked more than the control group, but less than the combined group.

Key takeaways

The results suggest games and financial incentives can help increase walking for people with heart conditions. Using games and money to increase walking has the potential to help improve the heart health of patients in the future.

News articles and more

The Washington Post: Incentives — including cash — helped people raise their step counts

The Today Show: New study shows daily incentives help you reach exercise goals

Medscape: Dollars, Points Help Patients With Cardiovascular Risk Increase Activity

HealthDay: ACC: Gamification Plus Financial Incentives Boost Physical Activity

The Philadelphia Inquirer: Incentives — including cash — helped people raise their step counts

Study link in Circulation: Effect of Gamification, Financial Incentives, or Both to Increase Physical Activity Among Patients at High Risk of Cardiovascular Events: The BE ACTIVE Randomized Controlled Trial

Thanks to trial participants

What we learned from the BE ACTIVE study was only possible due to the trial participants’ generous contributions of time and effort. Their efforts will help us design better care for patients in the future. Thank you for all your help!