Way to Walk 2

Evidence from behavioral economics suggests that people have short time horizons and difficulty trading off immediate gratification for delayed health benefits. Little is known, however, about whether financial incentives can be effective in encouraging higher levels of physical activity among older adults, particularly when they are in the form of social goals. The goal of this pilot randomized controlled trial was to test whether a financial incentive of a donation to achieve a social goal is more effective to motivate and sustain a daily walking habit than the same dollar value given to an older adult. We used a novel computer platform (Way to Health) with a digital pedometer-internet interface. Adults 65+ residing in a large retirement community were recruited to participate in this research study. This technology allowed for the wide dissemination of this intervention to promote a health habit with benefits to a wide range of older adults. The study pursued a new way of looking at an old problem and generated evidence that is scalable and promoted changes that are sustainable.

Funded by The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Pioneer Grants


Established in 2009, the University of Pennsylvania's Center for Health Behavior Research is an institution-wide collaborative effort, dedicated to conducting health behavior research, fostering advances in measurement of health behaviors, advancing the use of health behavior theory, and promoting collaboration among faculty, fellows and students. 




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University of Pennsylvania
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