INFOGRAPHIC: Incentivizing Exercise Could Yield 360 Million Pounds Lost in the U.S.

From the time we are children we are encouraged to do things with some sort of bribe. Eating all of your dinner means you can have dessert. Cleaning your room means you can stay up late. Making good grades means a free ride to college. Making more sales for your company means a higher salary. So it seems natural that we’d want some sort of reward for losing weight and eating right.

New research from Humana confirms that “59% of Americans would be more motivated to exercise regularly if they were rewarded.” These rewards aren’t just a latte from your favorite coffee shop, but larger prizes and gifts like airline tickets, movie passes, music downloads, or even hotel stays.

This raises an important question – isn’t your health the prize? Isn’t looking better and feeling stronger the prize? Isn’t getting off of diabetes medication, high blood pressure medication, and cholesterol lowering medication and saving thousands of dollars a year the prize?

“I set small goals and felt more encouraged with each one I achieved,” Brooke Randolph, LMHC says about her own experience with running. “If my only goal was to finish, I would have only achieved one goal at the end, albeit a large one. I felt more accomplished by checking off each mile I ran.” For Brooke, and 41% of Americans, the finish line, in whatever form it takes for each individual, is the prize.

That’s just not enough for the majority. As when we were toddlers, we still need someone standing on the other side of the door waving a sticker or piece of candy to convince us to do well. We never outgrow wanting the gold star.

We encourage everyone to set small, attainable goals for themselves, whether they’re trying to lose weight, stop smoking, or even get more sleep. If you need a carrot to help get you there, then try these ideas to reward yourself without food. If a secondary reward helps you exercise more then do that! According to Humana, going from a non-existent workout regimen to exercising 45 minutes 3-5 times per week “could result in an average weight loss of a half a pound a week.” Americans could certainly use to lose the estimated 360 million pounds/month that Humana calculated.

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