Vitality

Need Workout Motivation? Some Companies Give Cash And Apple Watches To Employees Who Wear Fitness Trackers

Apple Watch
Staying fit may earn you an Apple Watch from these companies. LWYang CC BY 2.0

Fitness trackers may not be ready to become the ultimate health monitors just yet, but they are still insanely popular — at least at first. Research shows that one-third of people abandon them after six months of use. To incentivize people to continue using them and hitting their daily goals, companies have enlisted the power of cold, hard cash to keep those Fitbits attached to people’s wrists.

Vitality, a South African disease and lifestyle program provider, lets its employees initially pay just $25 for the normally $350 Apple Watch. The catch? They have to meet daily exercise goals for two years or they’ll end up paying the difference. In an exclusive partnership with insurer John Hancock, Vitality hopes to bring the program to the United States.

"We all live busy lives, but the truth is, if doctors could write one prescription for the world, it would be activity," Jeff Williams, Apple's chief operating officer, told ABC News. "The beauty of this program is members are going to get healthier."

Over the course of a month, employees have to hit certain fitness goals like walking a set number of steps, exercising at 60 percent of their maximum heart rate for 30 minutes, and burning at least 200 calories. This earns them points that add up over the course of a month to determine how much the employee has to pay toward their Apple Watch. Employees can earn up to 15 points per day and pay nothing if they hit 250 by the end of the month.

Vitality isn’t the only program out there which rewards people for maintaining an exercise regimen and monitoring it with their fitness tracker. Oscar, a health insurance provider, has given out Misfit fitness trackers to their customers since 2014. If the customer hits a daily step goal, they earn a dollar. When they’ve stacked up $20, Oscar sends it to them on an Amazon gift card with a maximum payout of $240 a year.

“We want to get people outside and to be physically active,” Oscar co-founder Mario Schlosser told Forbes. “It’s to prevent you from getting sick in the first place — get people to be physically active and push them to do more with financial rewards.”

Fitbit teams up with employers like Indiana University Health and Emory University to provide employees with cheap Fitbit trackers. If any employee hits a fitness goal, they’re eligible to receive insurance discounts or could be put in a drawing for a much larger prize, like a trip to the Caribbean.

All of this tracking is not without its drawbacks, however. Fitbit has had problems with hackers, though the company told Medical Daily in a statement they take the security of their customer’s accounts very seriously. Another drawback is that employees and customers have to share their fitness data with large companies to win cash or prizes. For companies that offer it, getting insurance discounts isn’t as easy as reaching 10,000 steps. Some employers ask you to also fill out questionnaires, get flu shots, or have your cholesterol at a certain level.

Then again, more than two-thirds of the country is overweight or obese and, regardless of the drawbacks, getting cash or devices may be the type of workout motivation some people need to get up off their couch and get active.

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