A new study shows that monetary incentives aren't effective at inducing repeat gym visits.
Researchers for the National Bureau of Economic Research attempted to use one of life’s most common motivations to get people into the gym: money. However, they found that a financial incentive had zero effect on participants’ number of visits to the gym.
The researchers offered 836 new members at a private gym incentives ranging from a $30 gift card, to $30 or $60 in cash if they went to the gym just nine times in the first six weeks. Somehow, the money didn’t change anyone’s habits at all, the New York Post reported.
Researchers believe it’s because people are overconfident that they’ll go to the gym and don’t need any extra motivation to make them do so. Another major problem is the change in plans required to accommodate gym visits, whether it be waking up early or hitting the gym straight from work.
“People have a problem with those plans," said Justin Sydnor, a professor at the University of Wisconsin and an author of the study. “A little bit of additional money and a specific target doesn’t overcome that problem.”
So what will? Sydnor suggests being realistic about your progress. “You are unlikely to be as good at the gym as you hope you are,” he said. “Being realistic of that and recognizing it’ll be hard is very important.”