A study of 1500 adults found that money makes the stationary bikes go ‘round. Modest financial incentives ­— as little as five dollars a week — can increase the amount of exercise people are willing to do when recovering from injury.

The study was completed by Marc Mitchell, University of Toronto PhD candidate and Cardiac Rehabilitation Supervisor at Toronto Rehab. He was supervised by U of T exercise psychologists Guy Faulkner and Jack Goodman. The study took place locally, at Toronto Rehab’s Cardiovascular Prevention and Rehabilitation Program.

In a press release, Mitchell theorized that the money acted as a motivator because it changed the results of exercise from long-term benefits to instant gratification. “People’s actions tend to serve their immediate self-interest at the expense of long-term well-being,” said Mitchell.  The positive — receiving the money — balanced out the negative  — the discomfort and time commitment associated with exercise.

The study is part of a larger focus on studying methods of rehab adherence. After suffering an injury or illness, patients must make an active effort to recover and rehabilitate. “Rehab adherence” is the term used to describe patient engagement in the rehabilitation process.

The study will be published in the September online publication of The American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

With files from Science Daily and News-Medical.net