Sunday, June 23

How to Cheat at a Step Challenge

Welcome to Evil Week, our annual dive into all the slightly sketchy hacks we’d usually refrain from recommending. Want to weasel your way into free drinks, play elaborate mind games, or, er, launder some money? We’ve got all the info you need to be successfully unsavory.

A Fitbit or other step-counting challenge can be a great way to inspire yourself to be active. But then again, it’s easier to just sit on the couch and pretend you’re logging tons of steps. Here are a few ways to game the system, even though ultimately you’re just cheating yourself.

To be clear, everybody will hate you for this, and you’re completely defeating the point of the challenge. But now that we’re on the same page, let’s talk methods. Not every method will work on every brand and type of tracker, but here are some things to try:

You’ll take more “steps” with less effort than if you were actually walking. Note: do not tell the app you are riding a bike. This is not the point. You are using a bike to make it think you’re a super-fast runner.

Some people with motorcycles or dirt bikes have noted that the vibrations get registered as steps.

Swing your tracker on a string while you’re sitting down. This uses your hands, but you can still do it while watching TV. (You can also try putting your tracker in a sock, if you don’t trust your knot-tying skills.)

If you don’t mind keeping your hands busy, play a game where you tap your phone screen constantly. Similar to the vibration of a motorcycle, the tapping may register as steps. This redditor recommends Diner Dash, and another says that fast-paced card games can register steps as well.

This is like the above, but slightly more effort. Still, you can do it anywhere and you don’t even need a string. Other arm movements can also convince your tracker that you’re walking around:

Small, active dogs can rack up thousands more steps than you will.

People have had varying success with electric drills, ceiling fans, and various vibrating or rotating tools and machinery.

For extra fun, tell your app not to sync your steps automatically; this way you can watch your competitors slowly rack up their steps, and then reveal your winning total just before the contest closes.

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