Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences



Committee Chair

Kathryn Kestner

Committee Member

Claire St. Peter

Committee Member

Kevin Larkin

Committee Member

Nicholas Turiano

Committee Member

Christiaan Abildso


It is widely known that physically inactive adults are at a greater risk for developing noncommunicable diseases (e.g., cancer, stroke, coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes) and premature death compared to their physically active peers. Consequently, physical inactivity is one of the leading causes of death worldwide. Thus, it is important to develop effective ways to increase and maintain physical activity. In the current study, we randomly assigned adults between the ages of 18 and 64 years old to one of three groups (i.e., contingency management, participation-based incentive, and self-monitoring). Participants wore Fitbit Alta HR fitness tracking devices, which provided data on various indicators of daily physical activity, like calorie expenditure, steps taken, active min, etc. The experimenters also collected data on physiological indicators of physical activity, such as resting heart rate and weight. The results of the current study suggest that contingency management was not any more effective at increasing physical activity (as measured by average daily calorie expenditure) compared to participation-based incentives and self-monitoring. However, the majority of participants in the study were White females, and race/ethnicity was not equally distributed across groups. These disparities in demographic information and other limitations to the study and how they impacted the results will be discussed. Based on previous physical activity research and the results of the current study, the best ways to increase physical activity for adults remain unclear. Researchers should continue to investigate intervention techniques to increase physical activity for adults.