Magazine article USA TODAY

Financial Reward Spurs Kids' Workouts

Magazine article USA TODAY

Financial Reward Spurs Kids' Workouts

Article excerpt

Professional athletes aren't the only ones who enjoy getting paid for athletic performance--research suggests kids like it, too. In a study of children participating in an after-school exercise program, Ohio State University scientists found that youngsters promised a small payment for achieving maximum heart rate ultimately reached a higher heart rate than those just given encouragement.

"On one particular element of the program--riding the exercise bike--we didn't believe that the kids were giving us their best effort," notes Barbara A. Smith, associate professor of community, parent-child, and psychiatric nursing. "We tried everything--yelling, screaming, coaching, cheerleading. It didn't seem to work. After we started the `incentive' plan, all of a sudden we started noticing much higher heart rates."

Fifty-two youngsters aged seven to 12 were assigned to two groups. The first had 30 children; the second, 22. She told those in the first group to ride the exercise bike until they were exhausted, offering them words of encouragement as incentive. In contrast, she told the second group that they would earn $1 for pedaling hard enough to achieve a heart rate of 180 beats per minute, $2 for a rate of 200, and $5 for a rate of 210. …

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