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September 21, 2010

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I think it is a great idea. People SHOULD be encouraged to do the right thing and discouraged from doing harmful things, especially when it has a group impact. People may say "it's my business if I smoke", and they're right, but that doesn't mean I should have to pay more for my insurance because they do.

My wife's employer has implemented a wellness program that lowers their insurance rates if they participate.

This would definitely be a great (and fair) motivator, but I worry about people who only lose weight and be fit for the money. What happens when the money stops?

But I guess any way you get healthy is a good way...

Depends on the amount of money being offered.....! My current employer knocks $5 off your monthly charge for employee health insurance, provided you go 2-3X/week to a healthy club (key carded). Unfortunately, this is not enough to get me to the club.

The only problem I have with the pedometer idea is what is stopping someone from sitting on the couch and shaking their pedometer until it reaches 15000 steps. Seems easy enough to do. The key card idea for a local gym sounds promising. I run 10-milers, half, and full marathons, so I exercise for free, too, but I wouldn't mind some monetary incentives to keep me motivated.

This is a great idea except there are some downfalls. I absolutely hate gyms but I'm a very active person. Hiking, cycling, running, kettlebells. How is it fair to reward someone who goes to a gym and farts around and doesn't really accomplish anything while people like me bust our buts and are in great shape, but don't check into a gym 2-3 times a week.
That's why I like the idea of measuring fitness for the rewards.

I work for an organization that has gives out cash prizes each semester (fall, spring, summer) for different activities. $100 if you do arobic exercise 30 min 5 times a week, another $100 if you add 30 min of strength training 5 times a week. $100 if you loose 10 lbs, and a few other things like $100 when you run your first triatholon or marathon. They even give $100 if you help someone to complete the program for the first time. It is significat enough that I started exercising. I went from a couch potato to training for my first 5k and I have lost 20 lbs since starting the program. It took a while for me to work up to 5 days a week, but the money has been nice. it is spreading accros the organization people are loosing lots of weight and getting fit. I think it is a great idea.

@WOJO
I agree with you about what happens when the money stops. It's been found that peers are the best motivator in a person's wellness. So in this case, when the money stops, so does the motivation by-and-large. The best way to achieve long-term health is through social motivation and accountability. If your friends are going out for a run, you're much more apt to join them and take up running yourself.

I fell off the gym/ exercise wagon last year and I am looking to start it up again. A little extra cash would be a great boost for my discipline. My office offers discounted gym memberships to a place that is conveniently right across the street.

However, there would be difficulties in measuring fitness. Pedometers could be hacked (paint shaker machine?), going to the gym could be faked (card in, then read a magazine for an hour), etc. I think some thought would need to go into these programs to really make them work as intended.

My wife's company is doing the same program as the teacher in the original post. We're probably looking at about $300 a year incentive. A lot of people have gotten tired of wearing the pedometer everyday, it's a bit annoying. We'll take the cash though!

A good idea, but you need to reward results, not try to dictate behavior. My employer offers $30/month off health insurance if you meet certain criteria: Non-smoking or successfully complete a tobacco cessation program, BMI under X or successfully complete a weight management program, etc. You also need to be up-to-date on preventative care screenings. They do this evaluation once per year.

I love the idea. Our company offers a free gym membership at the club across the street once you've been here for 90 days. It's a great incentive. I think I'd definitely do it more if we received cash and gift cards also.

Great idea! Put the pedometer on the dog and use the cash incentive to pay the dog walker!

My employer is doing some of this with a 'wellness program' and 'wellness coaching'. We can get a few hundred $ for participation so its worth the time to do it. They didn't have any strict goals to get cash other than participation so they make it easy.

My insurance does a program, but my work doesn't. I would love it if they did. I exercise fairly regularly but would probably commit to more times per week if I could pay for all my Christmas shopping by doing it.

I'll try and get my work on board with this... maybe I'll post about when they decide to do it or not...

My company offers $15/month off from the insurance by participating a wellness program. You need to provide the results of blood pressure, lipid and blood sugar. It also offers a discount for gym memberships. It organizes many different exercise programs to motivate employees doing exercise. Walking is also a culture of my company. People like to walk around the company buildings. It takes me 25 minutes to walk one circle.

similar to jbhk, when i used to work, my company provided a discount on insurance if we showed we had a gym membership. the discount was $25, and any gym membership at the time was $29 at the least, so it did not make sense to get a membership just to save on the insurance from a financial perspective. it truly benefited those that were going to the gym with or w/o the discount. it did not reward those with treadmills at home however or those that follow DVD programs like P90X

What a ridiculous notion...more steps logged on a pedometer indicating better fitness. I'd rather be a fat weightlifter than a skin-and-bones walker/runner (I'm neither). Research studies have demonstrated that basic exercises such as push-ups and grip-strength are much more useful as measures of an individual's fitness level and ability to avoid a disabling injury such as a hip fracture.

I agree with providing incentives for health-conscious behavior, though. It would be much more prudent to focus on measures such as fasting glucose, blood pressure, and body fat percentage.

For those of you who would like some free cash, how about putting your pedometer on the washer or on a paint shaker?

You will get to $150 in just a few days!

-Mike

I already exercise in one form or another every day during the week (either by walking/running or strength training), so getting paid for it would be a nice benefit. I've found that exercise helps my mental alertness and my mood. If I don't get some form of exercise in during the day, I get a little "down." It has become my form of therapy for when I have bad days.

Side note: I've come to believe the most important component of an exercise program is not the type of program (ie, how much you lift, what kind of things you do, etc), but that you are consistent. In other words, you get to the gym day and day out. Everyone is going to have good days and bad days, but the fact that you're going means progress in the long run. As a favorite saying of mine goes..."Direction is more important than position"

Absolutely! I already go cycling anyway so if I can get paid for it, I'll go even more!

I wish my employer did this... getting paid for working out? That's so awesome.

Employers need to do something to curb health care costs for themselves, if paying people to get fit reduces their costs... the incentives will continue.

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