How An "Unhealthy" Vice Can Actually Keep You Healthy

How An "Unhealthy" Vice Can Actually Keep You Healthy

Meagan Morris
Aug 30, 2016
(Image credit: Dirima/Shutterstock)

Struggling to shut off Netflix and put on your sneakers? You aren't alone. Motivation—or lack thereof—is one of the biggest barriers to keeping you on a regular workout routine.

It doesn't have to be, though.

A recent study from researchers at the University of Pennsylvania found that there are two things that can keep your motivation flowing: your peers and good, old-fashioned money. In the study, researchers asked 288 volunteers, separated into groups, to track their steps, at least 7,000 a day. Each week they received feedback at how they did in comparison to their peers. Then, two teams were given the opportunity to earn money for maintaining their step goals.

The results? The participants who were compared to the average person in the group—and those who were offered money—achieved more of their goals than those who weren't.

(Image credit: Dirima/Shutterstock)

3 Ways Betting Can Better Your Workouts

This results of the study might seem obvious, but it's not always easy to follow in your daily life—or is it? Crib one or more of these tactics to help trade some of your Netflix time for workout time.

1. Start a Friendly Competition

Finding an accountability partner can make a huge difference in how often you lace up your shoes. A 2011 study published in Psychology of Sport and Exercise found that other people can positively impact your workout routine by how much they work out—as long as that person is reliable (no excuses here!). Grab a friend who has similar goals and use that to push each other to greatness.

And a bit of friendly competition will work as well. It can be as simple as betting dessert on who gets the most steps during the day, or put some money on the line and whoever reaches the goal first gets the cash.

2. Compete With Yourself

Prefer to exercise solo? Create healthy competition with yourself by setting some goals with rewards—like a manicure—if you get a certain number of workouts in a certain number of days.

On the flip side, you can use it as an opportunity to help others. Several non-profits and charitable organizations use races to raise money for their cause, like the American Cancer Society. Find a race that benefits a cause you believe in and use it as an opportunity to raise money for the cause—knowing that you're helping others can help get you out the door when you'd rather eat ice cream.

3. Bet Your Own Money

If all else fails, put your money where your mouth is. A whole crop of smart phone apps make it simple to put your money toward your goals. One app, GymPact, lets you set certain benchmarks (like workouts, number of healthy foods consumed, etc.) and your bank account will take a hit if you don't meet those goals. And if you do? You'll get paid real cash money in return.

Another app, DietBet, pays you money if you lose a certain amount of weight within the time frame. Just put up some money up front and you'll get back that and more if you drop the pounds. If not, you eat your cash. Another app, StepBet, does the same sort of thing, but instead of pounds it relies on the number of steps you take a day.

Eventually, you'll find that you're getting in your workouts even without that extra push—and you'll keep going because it's a habit, not something you're forced to do.

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