The possibility of losing money was a more effective motivator in getting overweight and obese adult employees to exercise than was promising extra pay, according to a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. For the study, researches took 281 adult employees considered overweight or obese and split them up into three groups with different financial incentives. The first group was promised $1.40 for each individual who achieved 7,000 steps per day; the second was given a daily lottery incentive; the third was given an incentive in which participants would lose $1.40 per day from a lump sum that they were given up front if they failed to reach the 7,000 step per day goal.
After the three-month active study, incentives were turned off for the next three months and the researchers still tracked people during that period. Based on the final results, the study concluded that "financial incentives framed as a loss were most effective for achieving physical activity goals." Study (subscription required)