money jar

Photo: tovfla/istockphoto

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Think: "If I don't work out, I lose this"

Why: Having a little skin in the game keeps you on track. People who were told that they'd lose $1.40 every time they fell short of a daily 7,000-step goal were more likely to meet the goal than those who earned the same amount of money every time they hit 7,000 steps, found a recent study in Annals of Internal Medicine. "It's an example of loss aversion," explains lead study author Mitesh Patel, MD, PhD, assistant professor of medicine and health care management in the University of Pennsylvania's Perelman School of Medicine. "We feel more pain from a loss than we feel happiness from a gain, so we're more motivated to do what we have to do to avoid losses." Apps like Pact let you pick how much money you'll be out if you don't reach your stated goal (the money you lose is given to other app users who do meet their goals—nothing like a little rivalry to add fuel your workout fire).