August 24th, 2019

To Your Health: Money talks, even when it comes to your health

By GILLIAN SLADE on July 22, 2019.

gslade@medicinehatnews.com@MHNGillianSlade

Are you motivated by money?

Most of us would probably say we are not. We either decide to do what we know is best or not and it does not having anything to do with money.

However, many of us like to think of ourselves as being savvy shoppers and will watch for sales to save money.

What about when it comes to your health?

There have been studies in the past showing that some of us will have more success sticking to a diet to loose weight if their is a monetary incentive. Someone pays you, or you pay yourself, an amount for everyday you stick to your eating plan. Sometimes that money is the reward to go and buy a new wardrobe of clothes for the new slimmer you.

There is now a study showing that a monetary reward may make the difference for someone trying to quit smoking for the long term.

The University of East Anglia in the U.K. has released the results of a study that involved 33 randomized controlled trials with more than 21,600 people across eight different countries.

The researchers wanted to determine if the financial incentive worked in the initial stages only or whether it had long-term results. Typically the participants, followed for at least six months, were helped in the early stages by the financial reward and then continued to remain smoke free even after the financial rewards were over. Testing of bodily fluids and breath were done to ensure they were smoke free.

Where no financial rewards were offered about seven per cent had successfully quit smoking six months later compared to 10.5 % of those given a financial incentive.

Smoking is still one of the main causes of disease and death. That message is evidently only part of the incentive smokers need to make the bold decision to quit and remain smoke free.

Before you condemn someone for that ask yourself if you are overweight and how much you struggle to lose that weight.

Whether you are trying to exercise regularly, take that daily walk, quit smoking and/or cut out junk and sugary foods and drinks it can be a struggle.

Back to the financial incentive to help. You do not have to wait for someone else to offer you a financial incentive.

For one month keep track of what you spend on cigarettes, junk food, sugary drinks, and calculate the value of daily physical exercise. Get a piggy bank, an empty jar, or ask someone else in the family to act as a savings account for you. Put the money you have calculated, in cash, into one of these safe places daily or weekly.

Decide how you would like to spend that money. It may be a special vacation in a year’s time, a new bicycle, a down payment on a new vehicle, new furniture or new clothes. It has to be something special, something you really want. Get a photo that will instantly remind you of what the financial reward is going to be used for. In moments of weakness when you are desperate for a smoke, a sugary drink or would rather lie on the couch instead of going to the gym, whip out that photo and remind yourself of your goal.

Here’s to incentives that lead to better health and here’s To Your Health.

To Your Health is a weekly column by Gillian Slade, health reporter for the News, bringing you news on health issues and research from around the world. You can reach her at gslade@medicinehatnews.com or 403-528-8635.

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