An Incentivized, Workplace Physical Activity Intervention Preferentially Increases Daily Steps in Inactive Employees

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


UNLABELLED: Although physical activity (PA) is associated with decreased risk of chronic diseases, fewer than half of American adults meet the recommendations for daily PA, in part, due to large amounts of sedentary time in the workplace.

PURPOSE: To determine the efficacy of an incentivized workplace PA intervention.

DESIGN: Retrospective cohort design.

SETTING: Large southeastern university.

PARTICIPANTS: Of the 16 588 eligible employees working ≥8 h/wk, 6246 (37.6%) participated and 2206 (13.3%) were included in data analysis.

INTERVENTION: Six-week PA intervention with tiered incentives (value: $10.50-$29.00).

MEASURES: Steps/day measured via consumer-grade PA monitors for 1-week pre-, 6-weeks during, and 1-week postintervention.

ANALYSIS: Participants were grouped by preintervention PA into 4 groups: <6000 (I); 6000 to 7999 (II); 8000 to 9999 (III); and ≥10 000 (IV) steps/d ( n = 481, 540, 485, and 700, respectively) in accordance with the tiered incentive schedule. Statistical comparisons were made by repeated-measures analysis of variance.

RESULTS: During the intervention, participants achieving ≥10 000 steps/d increased by 60%. Groups I, II, and III significantly increased steps/day during the intervention (46%, 24%, and 11%, respectively), which was partially maintained in groups I and II 1-week postintervention. Group IV did not increase steps/day during the intervention and significantly decreased steps/day 1-week postintervention. The estimated cost per participant of this intervention increased with from group I ($55.41) to IV ($71.90).

CONCLUSION: An incentivized, workplace PA intervention preferentially increases PA and is most cost-effective among university employees with low initial PA who may benefit substantially from increased levels of PA.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)638-645
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Health Promotion
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2018


  • Exercise
  • Female
  • Health Promotion/organization & administration
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motivation
  • Occupational Health
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sedentary Behavior
  • Walking
  • Workplace/organization & administration


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