Cedric Bryant, Ph.D., chief science officer for the American Council on Exercise, weighs in on using cash rewards for meeting fitness goals.
Q: I've read that people exercise more when they stand to earn a cash reward. Could I motivate myself the same way?
A: Absolutely. Workout results take time, which many people find frustrating. Rewarding yourself for meeting goals along the way delivers instant (or at least quicker) gratification, which can help you stay on track. To get started, set a specific target—say, walking briskly for 25 minutes on four days out of the week. Then decide what your prize will be if you meet that goal. A small healthy splurge, such as a massage or a pedicure, can do the trick. Another great motivator is friendly competition, so consider challenging your spouse, a friend, or your coworkers to see who hits the gym most often, with the winner taking home the prize.