Fitbit Users Cheat The System, Impact Insurance

Fitbit: Cheating The System

Millions of Americans have Fitbits, pedometers and other wearable devices to track their fitness activity, and a growing number of companies offer incentives to employees who use them to encourage better exercise habits.

But some people have figured out how to earn steps without ever taking one.

A man who asked not to be identified because of what he was doing with his company-issued step tracker shared one of his strategies for cheating the system with CBS News.

"Put the Fitbit in a sock. An hour and a half on no-heat setting in the dryer... 11,000 steps," he said.

That's 11,000 steps he's earning without even moving. Like many people, his pedometer is linked to insurance incentives that can lower his payments.

Companies benefit from a healthy workforce and many are rewarding employees with freebies and discounts on health insurance. But there's also a growing movement online to share ways to collect "steps" without breaking a sweat.

Putting the tracker in a drier is one hack. Another is to secure it around a power drill and to turn the drill on. Some people attach it to the spokes of a stationary bicycle and spin the wheel (although that still requires a fair amount of physical exertion — it might be easier to just go take a walk).

And if you've ever wondered about letting your pet take the steps for you, Woody the dog wore his human's Fitbit for a day and picked up 2,500 steps.

But as Dr. James Morgan points out, when people cheat the system and miss out on exercise, "they're really just cheating themselves."

© 2018 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.


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