Scientists May Have Found the Perfect Formula to Stick to a Workout

The hardest part about getting in shape isn’t starting a workout, it’s sticking with it.  But a new study may have found the perfect formula to make it happen.

Researchers wanted to see if they could get people with gym memberships to go more often.  So they designed a bunch of different programs that offered incentives.  The ones that worked best all followed a “plan, remind, reward” model.

Each person had to plan which days they’d work out.  Then they’d get automated text messages reminding them to go.  And if they followed through, they earned points they could redeem for small cash rewards.  Really small, like 25 cents a workout.

Those programs still didn’t work well long-term.  But one that DID had an extra wrinkle.  If people missed a workout, they got more money for not missing TWO IN A ROW.

Each time they went to the gym, they earned 22 cents.  But if they missed a day, they’d get an extra nine cents for not missing their NEXT workout.  So, 31 cents instead of 22.  And that extra incentive made a big difference.

The researchers think it’s because skip days make us feel like we failed, and that kills our motivation.  But they’re also inevitable, so you have to factor them in.

They say you can do it yourself.  Just make a plan, set reminders on your phone, and come up with incentives for not missing two workouts in a row.

(NBC News)