Are you having trouble getting your sedentary older-adult clients to go for that Sunday walk? Perhaps parting with
a little green might encourage them to take to the nearest path. According to a study published in the March issue of
the American Journal of Preventive Medicine (2009; 36 [3], 201–7), older adults were more likely to go for a regular
walk if a monetary incentive was offered.

Study authors set out to determine “preferences for
specific characteristics of walking programs (i.e., minutes per day, days per week, organized or individual/informal group, cash incentive) and the likelihood of participation”
among 501 inactive subjects, aged 50 years and older. Of all programs, respondents said they would most likely participate in three 20-minute walks per week. Adding a theoretical $9-per-week incentive upped interest by 31%. Respondents also admitted that they preferred solitary walks to exercising in a group setting.

“The results suggest that the characteristics of walking programs, such as whether they involve participation in a
formal group, substantially influence their perceived acceptability and the likelihood of participation,” stated study
authors. “The results also suggest that . . . modest financial
incentives increase the likelihood of program participation
by sedentary older adults, and thus are a potential means
to increase the effectiveness of walking programs.”

by Ryan Halvorson