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Physical activity offers a litany of health benefits, but finding the motivation to exercise can be hard

Philly Voice

New research from Penn’s Center for Health Incentives and Behavioral Economics found that gaming and financial incentives delivered through daily messages prompted people to increase their exercise routines. For more than a year, the researchers tracked 1,062 people at higher risk of cardiovascular disease. They each wore devices that recorded their steps and delivered daily messages with their step counts.

The study participants were randomly assigned to four groups. People in the first group received a gaming message that added or subtracted points based on whether they met their step goals. Participants in another group received $14 each week but lost $2 for each day in which they failed to meet their step goals. People in the third group received both gaming and financial incentives. The fourth group did not receive any incentives.

All three incentive-based groups increased their daily step totals, but the group that received gaming and financial incentives increased them the most and maintained their physical performance for at least six months after the conclusion of the study.

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