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Health & Wellness

Exercise Incentived

As if you didn’t already have enough incentive to exercise (see studies that show that exercise boosts brain power among the elderly, improves memory and learning in children, reduces anxiety, and saves the chronically ill money on medication), now there’s even more reason not to squander your gym membership. The Gym-Pact iPhone app pays users every time they work out (footing the bill: those app users who didn’t make it to the gym), and Anytime Fitness gym members received nearly $4 million in health insurance reimbursements last year for working out 12 or more times per month. Similarly, more insurers and employers are rolling out workplace wellness programs designed to make a dent in the obesity trend, which, unchanged, could see 86 percent of Americans labeled overweight or obese by 2030.

Motivation is also coming more frequently from the doctor’s office, as an increasing number of physicians prescribe exercise to their patients. Nearly 33 percent of adults who saw a doctor in the last year were told to exercise; that figure is up from 23 percent in 2000.

All this encouragement appears to be making a real difference, with 51 percent of Americans saying they exercise regularly, compared with 46 percent in 2001. Still, the people who are most likely to stick with a regular exercise program are those who maintain consistently strong intentions to exercise, in spite of illness, busy workweeks, or looming tasks. All that’s to say: The most rigorous workout of all might be the one in which you exercise power over your will not to put on those sneakers and head out the door.

Image credit: Creative Commons/Sebastian Fritzon@flickr.com

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