The objective of this study was to test whether a financial incentive integrated with health benefits for an online physical activity program was associated with increased employee participation and improved health status among participants compared with nonparticipants.
Participation in the Virtual Fitness Center (VFC), an online physical activity program associated with a $150 cash rebate, was assessed. Risk status for 2004 VFC participants and nonparticipants was compared using a health risk appraisal.
A total of 53.8% of total eligible employees were VFC participants and reduced their risk for physical inactivity (8.4% points), life dissatisfaction (2.1), low perception of health (1.9), high risk status (1.3), smoking (0.4), and high body weight (0.2).
Providing a cash incentive is one strategy for encouraging VFC participation and eliciting improved health status in an employer-sponsored, web-based physical activity program.