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The Leisure Media Company Ltd | Fit Tech promotion
The Leisure Media Company Ltd | Fit Tech promotion
features

Wellness: Inspiring enthusiasm

Immediate rewards can motivate people to exercise more, according to new research, reports Kath Hudson

Published in Health Club Management 2024 issue 5

Short-term incentives to exercise, such as using daily reminders, rewards or games, can lead to sustained increases in activity, according to new insight.

Researchers found that even a simple daily reminder encouraged people to move more, while offering financial incentives or point-based rewards was even more effective. Combining the two was the most powerful and led to participants logging improvements in activity levels six months after the rewards stopped, suggesting the intervention helped to form habits.

Supported by the US National Institutes of Health (NIH), the study took place between 2019 and 2024 and was published in the journal Circulation. More than 1,000 adults, with an average age of 67, who were at elevated risk for major cardiovascular events were monitored via fitness trackers. Their daily step count increased by more than 1,500 a day after a year on the programme and they did an extra 40 minutes of moderate exercise each week.

This is sufficient for a 6 per cent reduced risk of premature death and a 10 per cent reduced risk of cardiovascular-related deaths.

“Even moderate exercise can drastically reduce cardiovascular risk, so finding low-cost ways to get people moving that they also can do at home if needed is a huge win for public health,” said Alison Brown, a programme officer at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, which is part of NIH.

The research protocol
Participants set goals to increase their daily steps by 33 per cent, 40 per cent, 50 per cent, or any amount greater than 1,500 steps from their starting point and were divided into four groups. Three groups were offered incentives, including game-like rewards, financial rewards, or a combination of the two.

In the game group, participants received points for meeting their daily step goals and could move up a level. Those who missed their targets lost points and moved down a level.


At the end of the study, adults who reached the highest levels by meeting their daily step goals received trophies.

In the financial group, each participant received US$14 each week, but lost US$2 a day if they did not meet their step targets. The third group received game and financial incentives.

The fourth group – a control group – received no incentives but got the fitness tracker, along with daily messages that noted their step count.

Participants could also enlist a support crew, such as family or friends, who received weekly updates about their progress.

Each intervention lasted 12 months followed by a six-month follow-up period where all participants received the daily messages.

Before and after
Prior to the study, all participants logged an average of around 5,000 daily steps, or 2.4 miles. After 12 months, they increased their daily step count – as previously explained – by more than 1,500, or three-quarters of a mile.

Compared to the control group, the game group walked an extra 538 steps from their baseline amount, while those who received financial incentives walked an extra 492. The group who received both of these incentives averaged 868 extra steps and maintained an average 576 more daily steps six months later.

Study author, Alexander Fanaroff, said: “This research shows it’s easier to think about today than the future – whether it’s exercising more to support long-term heart health or saving for a future goal, such as college or retirement.”

Researchers advise helping people change their behaviours by giving instant rewards, including using exercise apps with daily reminders, enlisting family and friends for support and even creating scenarios where they give money away if they don’t meet their targets.

• The research: Effect of gamification, financial incentives, or both to increase physical activity among patients at high risk of cardiovascular events: The Be Active randomised controlled trial.

More: www.hcmmag.com/motivate

"This research shows it’s easier to think about today than the future" – Alexander Fanaroff, Study author

Sign up here to get Fit Tech's weekly ezine and every issue of Fit Tech magazine free on digital.
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In today's rapidly evolving fitness industry, where many online courses promise secret formulas for entrepreneurial success, the reality is that few provide the necessary knowledge to thrive in this fast-changing profession.
ABC Trainerize is a member engagement mobile app and software platform that allows coaches and ...
The UK's largest annual trade event dedicated to physical activity, health, and performance...
Core Health & Fitness: level up your HIIT game
Core Health & Fitness
Looking to level up your HIIT game? Meet the dynamic duo that’s about to revolutionize your workouts: the StairMaster HIIT Rower and HIIT Ski! Read more
Get Fit Tech
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features

Wellness: Inspiring enthusiasm

Immediate rewards can motivate people to exercise more, according to new research, reports Kath Hudson

Published in Health Club Management 2024 issue 5

Short-term incentives to exercise, such as using daily reminders, rewards or games, can lead to sustained increases in activity, according to new insight.

Researchers found that even a simple daily reminder encouraged people to move more, while offering financial incentives or point-based rewards was even more effective. Combining the two was the most powerful and led to participants logging improvements in activity levels six months after the rewards stopped, suggesting the intervention helped to form habits.

Supported by the US National Institutes of Health (NIH), the study took place between 2019 and 2024 and was published in the journal Circulation. More than 1,000 adults, with an average age of 67, who were at elevated risk for major cardiovascular events were monitored via fitness trackers. Their daily step count increased by more than 1,500 a day after a year on the programme and they did an extra 40 minutes of moderate exercise each week.

This is sufficient for a 6 per cent reduced risk of premature death and a 10 per cent reduced risk of cardiovascular-related deaths.

“Even moderate exercise can drastically reduce cardiovascular risk, so finding low-cost ways to get people moving that they also can do at home if needed is a huge win for public health,” said Alison Brown, a programme officer at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, which is part of NIH.

The research protocol
Participants set goals to increase their daily steps by 33 per cent, 40 per cent, 50 per cent, or any amount greater than 1,500 steps from their starting point and were divided into four groups. Three groups were offered incentives, including game-like rewards, financial rewards, or a combination of the two.

In the game group, participants received points for meeting their daily step goals and could move up a level. Those who missed their targets lost points and moved down a level.


At the end of the study, adults who reached the highest levels by meeting their daily step goals received trophies.

In the financial group, each participant received US$14 each week, but lost US$2 a day if they did not meet their step targets. The third group received game and financial incentives.

The fourth group – a control group – received no incentives but got the fitness tracker, along with daily messages that noted their step count.

Participants could also enlist a support crew, such as family or friends, who received weekly updates about their progress.

Each intervention lasted 12 months followed by a six-month follow-up period where all participants received the daily messages.

Before and after
Prior to the study, all participants logged an average of around 5,000 daily steps, or 2.4 miles. After 12 months, they increased their daily step count – as previously explained – by more than 1,500, or three-quarters of a mile.

Compared to the control group, the game group walked an extra 538 steps from their baseline amount, while those who received financial incentives walked an extra 492. The group who received both of these incentives averaged 868 extra steps and maintained an average 576 more daily steps six months later.

Study author, Alexander Fanaroff, said: “This research shows it’s easier to think about today than the future – whether it’s exercising more to support long-term heart health or saving for a future goal, such as college or retirement.”

Researchers advise helping people change their behaviours by giving instant rewards, including using exercise apps with daily reminders, enlisting family and friends for support and even creating scenarios where they give money away if they don’t meet their targets.

• The research: Effect of gamification, financial incentives, or both to increase physical activity among patients at high risk of cardiovascular events: The Be Active randomised controlled trial.

More: www.hcmmag.com/motivate

"This research shows it’s easier to think about today than the future" – Alexander Fanaroff, Study author

Sign up here to get Fit Tech's weekly ezine and every issue of Fit Tech magazine free on digital.
More features
Editor's letter

Into the fitaverse

Fitness is already among the top three markets in the metaverse, with new technology and partnerships driving real growth and consumer engagement that looks likely to spill over into health clubs, gyms and studios
Fit Tech people

Ali Jawad

Paralympic powerlifter and founder, Accessercise
Users can easily identify which facilities in the UK are accessible to the disabled community
Fit Tech people

Hannes Sjöblad

MD, DSruptive
We want to give our users an implantable tool that allows them to collect their health data at any time and in any setting
Fit Tech people

Jamie Buck

Co-founder, Active in Time
We created a solution called AiT Voice, which turns digital data into a spoken audio timetable that connects to phone systems
Profile

Fahad Alhagbani: reinventing fitness

Let’s live in the future to improve today
Opinion

Building on the blockchain

For small sports teams looking to compete with giants, blockchain can be a secret weapon explains Lars Rensing, CEO of Protokol
Innovation

Bold move

We ended up raising US$7m in venture capital from incredible investors, including Andreessen Horowitz, Khosla Ventures, Primetime Partners, and GingerBread Capital
App analysis

Check your form

Sency’s motion analysis technology is allowing users to check their technique as they exercise. Co-founder and CEO Gal Rotman explains how
Profile

New reality

Sam Cole, CEO of FitXR, talks to Fit Tech about taking digital workouts to the next level, with an immersive, virtual reality fitness club
Profile

Sohail Rashid

The app is free and it’s $40 to participate in one of our virtual events
Ageing

Reverse Ageing

Many apps help people track their health, but Humanity founders Peter Ward and Michael Geer have put the focus on ageing, to help users to see the direct repercussions of their habits. They talk to Steph Eaves
App analysis

Going hybrid

Workout Anytime created its app in partnership with Virtuagym. Workout Anytime’s Greg Maurer and Virtuagym’s Hugo Braam explain the process behind its creation
Research

Physical activity monitors boost activity levels

Researchers at the University of Copenhagen have conducted a meta analysis of all relevant research and found that the body of evidence shows an impact
Editor's letter

Two-way coaching

Content providers have been hugely active in the fit tech market since the start of the pandemic. We expect the industry to move on from delivering these services on a ‘broadcast-only’ basis as two-way coaching becomes the new USP
Fit Tech People

Laurent Petit

Co-founder, Active Giving
The future of sports and fitness are dependent on the climate. Our goal is to positively influence the future of our planet by instilling a global vision of wellbeing and a sense of collective action
Fit Tech People

Adam Zeitsiff

CEO, Intelivideo
We don’t just create the technology and bail – we support our clients’ ongoing hybridisation efforts
Fit Tech People

Anantharaman Pattabiraman

CEO and co-founder, Auro
When you’re undertaking fitness activities, unless you’re on a stationary bike, in most cases it’s not safe or necessary to be tied to a screen, especially a small screen
Fit Tech People

Mike Hansen

Managing partner, Endorphinz
We noticed a big gap in the market – customers needed better insights but also recommendations on what to do, whether that be customer acquisition, content creation, marketing and more
More features