Studies Say This Will Actually Make You Work Out (And You’ll Get Paid!)

Top view of a young woman doing exercise at home.
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It’s so hard to make yourself exercise consistently. So many mornings, so many evenings, the last thing you want to do is hit the gym or ride an exercise bike.

That’s why so few of us do it. Only about half of Americans get enough exercise to see any health benefits from it, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control.

Since we’re so short on willpower, what can motivate us to work out?

Try cold, hard cash.

Money is a surprisingly effective way to make yourself exercise, according to a bunch of research. So we’ve found some simple ways to make money for exercising and living healthy.

Get Paid to Move Around

Did you know you can win money for hitting your step goals?

Yup — a little extra cash would be nice, plus you might finally hit that daily step goal. (Seriously, stop telling me I’m lazy, Fitbit. I get it.)

Fitness game StepBet allows you to place a bet on your weekly step goal. If you hit it? You win cash.

Here’s how it works: Place a personalized step count bet. The bet amount varies, but it’s usually $40; each game tends to run six weeks. Hit your goal each week, and you’ll win your bet amount back plus split the pot of bets with the other winners.

To date, StepBet has paid out more than $9 million to winners.

Just sign up for the app, and start playing. You’ll have a chance to win some spending money, and you’ll also finally have a reason to meet your step goals.

Cash out When You Lose Weight

Bottom line: An app called HealthyWage will literally pay you for losing weight.

Enter how much weight you’d like to lose (10 to 150 pounds) in its calculator, how long you’ll take (six to 18 months) and how much you want to bet ($20 to $150 per month).

Each month, you pay your promised amount into the program. In return, HealthyWage provides support through expert advice and weight-tracking tools.

If you stick to your goal and lose the weight you say you’re going to, the company pays you. It’s as simple as that.

If you don’t hit your goal, your money goes to support HealthyWage, including prizes for others who achieve their goals.

Teresa Suarez bet $125 per month she would lose 60 pounds in six months. She lost 68 pounds — and made over $2,400.

Research Backs It up

A number of recent studies found that financial incentives lead people to exercise more regularly:

  • A study published in The Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology medical journal found that people walked more steps per week when given a financial incentive. The study included 800 office workers in Singapore. People tended to walk 30 minutes more per day if they were awarded $30 whenever they walked at least 70,000 steps per week.
  • In a study in the journal Translational Behavioral Medicine, researchers from Stanford University and the University of Michigan tracked 12,000 people insured by Blue Care Network, which allows obese policyholders to choose between exercising or paying 20% more in premiums. Researchers found that 97% of them managed to take at least 5,000 steps per day.
  • In a yearlong weight-loss study, researchers at the Mayo Clinic found that participants who were shooting for a small monthly payout (just $20) lost more weight than those who weren’t.

But we could have told you that…

Mike Brassfield ([email protected]) is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. He hates working out, but he likes money.