You know what’s a great weight loss motivator? Money. Getting paid to walk sounds amazing, and offers a powerful incentive to make positive changes in your diet and fitness behaviors. But are these opportunities legit?
As someone who works from home and behind the computer, I know I lead a pretty sedentary life. However, I didn’t know just how sedentary!
At my most recent physical, my doctor told me my cholesterol was through the roof. And even though I’m not “overweight,” I’m more than a little soft around some edges. How could this be? I know I have a few diet downfalls, but my calorie consumption isn’t crazy and I eat pretty good most of the time.
What the heck is going on?
My life revolves around ways to make money from home. Over the years, I have heard a lot about ways to get paid to lose weight. I started checking into some of these opportunities to see if I could monetize dropping a few pounds and if people were really finding success with these programs. (I’m not the only one motivated by money. There are studies that prove cash incentives motivate weight loss.)
HealthyWage, for example, has a minimum weight loss goal of 10%. (Occasionally short-term challenges are available but the minimum is 6%.) DietBet was the other site I was interested in. Their Kickstarter Challenges required at least 4% weight loss with their Transformer Challenges again requiring 10% body weight loss. 10% weight loss would be A LOT for me. That isn’t even my goal in my dreams.
I would like to see the scale drop about five to seven pounds. But even 4% was a lot to commit to before the holidays. (My husband and I are signed up for weight loss challenges starting in January. Stay tuned for those results!)
But as I was poking around these sites, I noticed they also offer an opportunity to get paid to walk. Step challenges to be specific. And walking I can handle!
I wasn’t going to wait until January. For me, that just meant I had a really good reason to go totally off the rails for two months. So, I jumped right in.
So, read on to discover if I met my goals or failed and how you can possibly make money just by meeting your exercise goals.
What are Step Challenges?
Step challenges are exactly what they sound like: programs where you challenge yourself to walk so many steps each day within a particular time period. While your overall goal may be to lose weight, to improve your health or feel better in your body, it can help to have both a deadline and an incentive to motivate you – sometimes abstract concepts of self-confidence or better health, although serious, aren’t enough to do the trick. Losing money is another matter!
How do These Apps That Pay You to Walk Work?
HealthyWage and DietBet’s Step Challenge vertical – StepBet – are both known to be legitimate and popular. So I stuck with these two sites for my challenges.
Both sites link up to your fitness tracker, like a Fitbit. Both determine your challenge goal for you based on your average steps now. You can then choose an upcoming challenge to join.
Yes, you must pay up front to join these step challenges – it’s what drives the whole process! The incentive of recovering your initial outlay and winning a return on your investment can provide you with plenty of get-up-and-go to stick to your diet plan and exercise goals. Payments may be made in total up front or in monthly payments over the course of the program depending on the site and length of challenge.
If you meet the established goal by the end date, you’re guaranteed to at least break even – but you could win more money! At the end of the challenge, the betting pool – minus the site’s cut – is split among those that met their goal. Losers forfeit their contribution.
3 Ways to Earn Money with Your Fitbit
So, I told you I chose HealthyWage and StepBet for my challenges. You can do challenges at both sites at the same time. I also added in a third that doesn’t cost anything but also allows you to earn money with your Fitbit.
HealthyWage bills themselves as hosting “wellness challenges with cash prizes.” They've set themselves up so participants can make a personal weight loss bet, join their HealthyWage-hosted corporate wellness program, or put together a team for a weight loss challenge. They also have a few step challenges available at any given time.
As I said, HealthyWage will determine your step goal based on your average steps for the last 45 days. I haven’t been wearing my Fitbit consistently, so it gave me a goal of 10,000 steps. The challenge I joined ran for two months. The bet was $60 but I could have chosen to pay $30 each month.
Unlike the weight loss challenges that require weight verification at the beginning and end of their challenges, HealthyWage connects to your fitness tracker and verifies your steps that way.
While you have your daily goal, HealthyWage uses your overall steps for the entire challenge to determine winners and losers. Since my challenge lasted 60 days, the ultimate goal I had to meet was 600,000 steps. If I wanted to do more steps some days and fewer others, I’d still be in the game provided I hit 600,000 steps by the end date.
If you win, you’ll be paid via PayPal or a paper check after your challenge completes and you request your payout.
StepBet is DietBet’s step challenge vertical. This site also sets your goal based on your recent step activity. I had to wear my Fitbit every day for a week before it would give me a goal. My steps were so lame, it gave me a goal of 7,300 steps 4 days per week and 2 “stretch days” of 9,300 steps. Unlike HealthyWage, you get a rest day each week though your steps do not accumulate over the course of the challenge. You have to meet the active days/stretch days each week or you’re out.
One thing different about StepBet is that the first week of many challenges is a “warm-up” week. It helps you get acclimated with the app and new activity. If you don't meet your goal during a warm-up week, that's okay. The challenge officially starts on week two. I needed that because I was totally unprepared for just how many steps 7,300 steps is when I’m used to sitting on my bum most of the day. That was a rough first week!
I told you I added in a third app just because it didn’t require any extra work or investment – the Achievement app. You install it on your smartphone and then get paid for doing various health and weight loss-related activities – this includes earning points for walking and other physical activities, getting enough sleep, tracking your food and more.
Once you connect your other fitness apps to it (like MyFitnessPal, Fitbit, Apple Health, Runkeeper, etc.), you’re passively accruing points in Achievement that can be converted into cash via PayPal or bank deposit.
This won’t pay big or quickly – you must earn 10,000 points to earn $10. You can increase your earnings by connecting your first app to Achievement and by referring others. But for free money as a side effect of getting healthier, it’s not bad.
HealthyWage Step Challenge
My Bet: $60
My Goal: 600,000 steps from November 19 – January 17 (10,000 steps per day)
My Results: Winner! I won $77.56 in this challenge. Minus my $60 bet, I profited $17.56.
My bet: $40 for a 6-week challenge
My goal: 7,300 steps 4 day per week, 9,300 steps two days per week
My results: Winner! I won $50.91 in this challenge! I wasn’t expecting that at all. My bet was $40, so I ended up with $10.91 extra. That’s a 27% return. (Note: Every challenge is different. Payouts will vary based on the number of participants, the site's cut and the number of people who don't meet their goal. Some winnings will be small. Some may be large. You are always guaranteed to at least get your bet back if you meet the goal set by the site.)
The funds were in my account and available for cashing out within a day of the game ending. I have reinvested those funds into another challenge to keep myself going.
My results: I am only earning 30 to 50 points here per day. I don’t log any meals so I’m just earning points for the Fitbit activity Achievement rewards; sleep, steps, heart rate, body fat and weight. (I have the Fitbit Aria scale.) It's going to take me quite a while to hit that $10 cashout threshold (10,000 points). Even at 50 points per day, that's 200 days to hit $10. But, it's passive. I'll take it. Maybe by next Christmas, I'll have $20 worth of points available.
Can You Really Get Paid to Walk?
As I said, I was in for a total shock once I started wearing my Fitbit for that initial tracking period. And I was also in shock when I started working towards my site-established goals. Even 7,300 steps – which is well below the recommended 10,000 steps we all hear about – was a lot. My Fitbit app has a little hourly tracker that wants you to at least get 250 steps an hour. Sadly, most of the mornings when I was starting out I wasn’t hitting that. My mornings are most often spent stuck in my chair at my desk. That was a hard habit to break.
I had a lot of adjustments to make. I work at home. It’s not like I can use a lot of the tips out there for meeting your 10,000 daily steps. I can’t just park my car further away at work. It’s also winter here in Nebraska. I can’t just take a break and go walk around the block a few times.
So, I had to get creative.
- I had my husband cut me a piece of wood for the treadmill that could hold my laptop. That was a good start though rough for a lazy person like me. I had to break up my time at the treadmill and do several little walks throughout the day. I appreciate the distraction! While writing my weekly newsletter I can generally put in 5,000 steps and I don’t even notice the time has passed as I’m so focused. As a bonus, getting away from my regular desk has been really good for my back and shoulders! One thing to note, my Fitbit doesn’t track steps if my arm isn’t swinging. I have to put it around my ankle when tread-working.
- I found my best distraction was reading, which I love to do. I picked up a few good books, and I spend an hour or so in the evening doing laps around the house with a book in one hand. This really adds up the steps. And I look forward to it!
All in all, I’m really happy that I tried these services. They definitely helped get me off my duff and moving. It also made me more conscious of how inactive I have been lately and what health effects that inactivity may be causing.
I look forward to doing a couple more of these as I continue to increase my steps. And StepBet offer variations on the original game for those who are reaching their max daily steps. For example, you can do a “maintainer” challenge where you just need to maintain your current average to win as opposed to increasing your steps by another 25%.
Do I Recommend Doing More Than One Game at a Time?
I do. I found StepBet and HealthyWage complimented each other well. With HealthyWage, there is the risk of letting yourself take so many leisure days that you can't catch back up at the end. Doing the StepBet at the same time has ensured that I am meeting a minimum amount of steps at least six days per week so I can't get too far off track.
Ready to Get Paid to Exercise?
Join StepBet – To join, download the StepBet app.
Join HealthyWage – new games are starting all the time! Get started here.