Older Adults Say Cash Might Motivate Them to Walk

Feb 10, 2009 By Star Lawrence

(PhysOrg.com) -- In 2006, a team of researchers set out to examine what sorts of walking programs and incentives might induce sedentary people over age 50 to put on their sneakers. They found that small cash payments might just provide that extra push.

A survey asked 501 inactive adults to state their preferences regarding how long they would walk, and whether they would ambulate alone or in a group, if they had to make a choice.

Participants most often selected three solitary, 20-minute walks per week. In addition, by adding a theoretical offer of $9 a week, researchers upped the regimen’s enthusiasts by 31 percent.

“A number of exercise programs are structured around group activity,” said Derek Brown, Ph.D., lead study author. “This was not preferred by most. We did find, though, that money would increase participation. Also, people were more receptive to walking three days a week, rather than more or fewer days. The idea that it takes three days a week to gain sufficient benefits from physical activity seems to be ingrained.”

Brown is an economist with the Public Health Economics Program at RTI International, based in North Carolina. The study appears in the March issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

He pointed out that one hour of activity per week does not meet government health standards of 30 minutes, five days a week for moderate intensity activity such as walking. In the study, sedentary and inactive adults wanted $36.30 per week to do this much exercise. If they had to go in a group, they wanted nearly twice as much more.

Brian Martinson, Ph.D., a senior research investigator with HealthPartners Research Foundation in Minneapolis, had reservations about the study’s hypothetical nature.

“No one was paying them,” said Martinson, who has no affiliation with the study. “Given the value we Americans place on our autonomy and independence, I was not surprised that people didn’t want to walk in structured groups. The $36 a week to meet government goals was discouraging. More nuanced ways of offering incentives, such as having people ‘front’ their own cash with promise of returns if staying active, have recently been shown to be more cost-effective.”

Provided by American Journal of Preventive Medicine

Explore further: Oil-swishing craze: Snake oil or all-purpose remedy?

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Heartbleed bug causes major security headache (Update 3)

Apr 09, 2014

A confounding computer bug called "Heartbleed" is causing major security headaches across the Internet as websites scramble to fix the problem and Web surfers wonder whether they should change their passwords to prevent the ...

Recommended for you

Suddenly health insurance is not for sale

Apr 18, 2014

(HealthDay)— Darlene Tucker, an independent insurance broker in Scotts Hill, Tenn., says health insurers in her area aren't selling policies year-round anymore.

Study: Half of jailed NYC youths have brain injury (Update)

Apr 18, 2014

About half of all 16- to 18-year-olds coming into New York City's jails say they had a traumatic brain injury before being incarcerated, most caused by assaults, according to a new study that's the latest in a growing body ...

Autonomy and relationships among 'good life' goals

Apr 18, 2014

Young adults with Down syndrome have a strong desire to be self-sufficient by living independently and having a job, according to a study into the meaning of wellbeing among young people affected by the disorder.

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Icester
not rated yet Feb 10, 2009
How about instead of giving them money as an incentive, you make people pay a "fat tax". Yep, if you're fat, you pay an extra tax. It's only fair as the entire system has to pay the extra medical bills caused by their self-inflicted obesity. Also, the extra expenses incurred by having to make special provisions for fat people - wider chairs, doorways, etc.

More news stories

Filipino tests negative for Middle East virus

A Filipino nurse who tested positive for the Middle East virus has been found free of infection in a subsequent examination after he returned home, Philippine health officials said Saturday.

Study says we're over the hill at 24

(Medical Xpress)—It's a hard pill to swallow, but if you're over 24 years of age you've already reached your peak in terms of your cognitive motor performance, according to a new Simon Fraser University study.

NASA's space station Robonaut finally getting legs

Robonaut, the first out-of-this-world humanoid, is finally getting its space legs. For three years, Robonaut has had to manage from the waist up. This new pair of legs means the experimental robot—now stuck ...

Ex-Apple chief plans mobile phone for India

Former Apple chief executive John Sculley, whose marketing skills helped bring the personal computer to desktops worldwide, says he plans to launch a mobile phone in India to exploit its still largely untapped ...

Egypt archaeologists find ancient writer's tomb

Egypt's minister of antiquities says a team of Spanish archaeologists has discovered two tombs in the southern part of the country, one of them belonging to a writer and containing a trove of artifacts including reed pens ...

Airbnb rental site raises $450 mn

Online lodging listings website Airbnb inked a $450 million funding deal with investors led by TPG, a source close to the matter said Friday.