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Time Preferences and Physical Activity: Insights from Behavioral Economics

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Objective: We examined the relationship between time preferences and physical activity among adults. Methods: This was a cross-sectional study of 7071 adults in the United States. Time preferences were elicited based on a hypothetical dollar amount today or a larger sum in 30 days, and a dollar amount 30 days from now or a larger sum in 60 days. Physical activity was self-reported. Results: In multivariable analysis, high future time preferences were 1.2 times more likely to meet guidelines than those that were not future oriented (30 days: OR=1.24, 95%CI 1.02-1.52; 60 days: OR= 1.23, 95%CI=1.06-1.44). Conclusions: We demonstrate a positive relationship between future time preferences and physical activity. Future research should aim to assess this relationship using prospective designs.


Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: American Cancer Society, Department of Intramural Research, Economic and Health Policy Research, Atlanta, GA, USA

Publication date: January 1, 2017

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  • Health Behavior and Policy Review is a rigorously peer-reviewed scholarly bi-monthly publication that seeks manuscripts on health behavior or policy topics that represent original research, including papers that examine the development, advocacy, implementation, or evaluation of policies around specific health issues. The Review especially welcomes papers that tie together health behavior and policy recommendations. Articles are available through subscription or can be ordered individually from the Health Behavior and Policy Review site.
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