This study looked at what *really* motivates people to exercise, and its findings may surprise you

For most people, feeling motivated enough to exercise can be extremely challenging. We know that we should do it, and we also know that we should get enough sleep and eat right in order to have a balanced and healthy life. But facts aside, the things that motivate people to get that physical activity into their day are different than what you may have previously thought.

Reuters reports that, in a study conducted by Duke-NUS Medical School in Singapore, researchers found the reward of positive health results isn’t enough to get more people to the gym. More surprising, they also found that activity trackers like FitBits aren’t making as much of a difference in motivation as was expected — despite their increased popularity.

So what does motivate folks to exercise?

In the study, it was revealed that the group of subjects that performed the best had both an activity tracker and cash initiatives.

The research team tracked how participants kept their motivation up to consistently exercise for up to a year. At the beginning of the study, about two-thirds of participants were considered “too inactive,” while about a third were considered active. But by the end of the study, the group with both activity trackers and cash initiatives were found to have exercised just 15 minutes more than the no-tracker group — while the tracker only group averaged 37 more minutes than the non-tracker group.


While this study showed us that people’s motivators for exercise aren’t necessarily as “deep” as we thought, it proves that the most important thing is finding something to keep that motivation in check.