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Fitness Tracker Incentives Tempting Some To Cheat On Step Counts

DALLAS (CBS) - They're a big trend – fitness devices designed to track everything from the number of steps you take in a day, to your activity levels, and even your sleep cycles.

Many companies are giving employees free fitness trackers, or allowing their workers to sync their own trackers to the company's website. The incentives include bragging rights, freebies and even insurance discounts.

Those discounts are why some people are finding ways to hack the system.

Some people are putting their trackers in the dryer.

"Put the Fitbit in a sock. Hour-and-a-half, low heat setting in the dryer, 11,000 steps. Thank you," said one man who didn't want to be identified.

He says he doesn't need incentive to workout, because he already exercises three to four times a week.

"What I do need is less to think about on a day-to-day basis, when you're juggling children, work," he said.

So, he found a way to meet his step goals while saving time.

Some people are even attaching their fitness trackers to their pets, resulting in thousands of extra steps per day.

Doctors are also prescribing daily step goals as a type of treatment. A recent study found that a written prescription for steps can lead to a 20 percent increase in a patient's daily step count. The benefits can include things like lower blood sugar for patients with type two diabetes.

As for those who are cheating the system, doctors say even if employees are getting discounts or bragging rights, "They're really just cheating themselves," says Dr. James Morgan.

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