How can you motivate people to adopt healthier behaviours?
An article in last month’s Health Club Management magazine discussed research suggesting that financial rewards could motivate people to adopt healthier behaviours.
The article mentioned that even just a few pounds may be enough to persuade someone to do something that could improve their health, whether that be giving up smoking or taking up physical activity.
Penalty systems can also be effective it was argued, so for example someone who hands over money which they only get back upon performance of a particular behaviour, can increase the likelihood of them actually doing it.
Although this maybe sounds like common sense, we can look at it a bit more deeply. In the case of penalties for instance, clearly the fact that someone is willing to hand over the money in the first place indicates they have some intention to adopt or cease a particular behaviour and so it could be argued that the penalty is simply bolstering some degree of existing motivation, whereas a reward may be more useful when there is no intention at all. The former could be more applicable to PT clients who are presumably open to the idea of changing a behaviour, so perhaps asking clients to provide a deposit which they only receive back if they fulfil certain behaviour requirements may be a powerful tool to encourage adherence.
The article did note that there was little indication of whether the effect of incentives continues after they stop which of course is a key issue and underlines the importance of instilling intrinsic motivation versus extrinsic motivation in clients. Strategies to do this are covered in our Behaviour Change Coaching course.