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Financial incentives and fitness goals

published: 02-20-2017
Filed under: Finances, Fitness, Goals
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It’s tax season, and finances are on your mind. Financial planning is important and it might help you stay on track with your fitness goals. What motivates you to exercise? Maybe it’s your New Year’s resolution, or you’re training for an upcoming event. The key is finding what works for you, so that you maintain a regular exercise routine.

For many, money can be a strong motivator for maintaining their exercise behaviors. You pay for gym memberships, fitness classes, and fancy exercise equipment—but is spending money a good way to stay motivated?

In general, people often are motivated by immediate gratification (versus being rewarded later) and by losses, rather than gains. Some research suggests that the idea of losing money is a strong motivator for maintaining an exercise program. So, if you pay for a gym membership and never use it, that sense of monetary loss can motivate you to actually go to the gym. Still, the value you place on that membership is important too. You might not feel a significant sense of loss over a $10 monthly gym membership, whereas the threat of losing $200 a month for a different membership might matter more. In one study, money was deducted from some participants’ prepaid accounts each time a fitness goal (walking 7000 steps/day) wasn’t met. Those who “lost” money experienced a greater increase in activity compared to those who were paid each day they met the same goal. For some people, losses feel worse than gains feel good.

You also might consider pre-paid or unlimited-visit gym memberships, where you pay a certain amount up front. And the more often you go, you get more bang for your buck as each class becomes cheaper.

Sometimes you need to “trick yourself” into good behaviors. Are you motivated by losses or gains? Find a trick that works for your wallet and you might find yourself in better shape for it!


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