You Can’t Pay People to Go to the Gym. (At Least, You Can’t Pay Them $60.)

How much money would it take to get you to go to the gym at least once a week? As The Washington Post reports, the answer isn’t $30. Or $60.

When researchers offered new gym members $30, $60 or a gift worth about $30 for going to the gym nine times in six weeks, attendance increased only slightly, according to the “Can Financial Incentives Help People Trying to Establish New Habits?” study by the National Bureau of Economic Research.

Wait, what was that “gift worth about $30?” The study is paywalled, but Science Daily reports that it was “a prize item, such as a blender.” A $30 blender? Maybe they should have followed that “Buying Time Promotes Happiness” study’s example and offered an hour of free housecleaning.

Anyway, the point is that you can’t force people to go to the gym by offering them a small amount of cash and/or an appliance.

The best part of this WaPo story is—surprisingly—the comments, in which everyone essentially responds “$60 for nine trips to the gym? How little do you think our time is worth?”

I agree. $60 for an entire month wouldn’t incentivize me to spend any time at the gym, especially since I’m already doing yoga and bodyweight exercises at home for free. I’d probably do it for $100, though. Per trip.

What about you?

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