Charity Miles turns your workout into a charitable donation

This free app for Android and iOS lets you earn money for worthy causes when you walk, bike, or run.

Pick a charity, then start walking, running, or biking. When you're done, you'll have the satisfaction of knowing you made two contributions (one to yourself, one to a worthy cause).
Pick a charity, then start walking, running, or biking. When you're done, you'll have the satisfaction of knowing you made two contributions: one to yourself, one to a worthy cause. Screenshot by Rick Broida/CNET

Need some extra motivation to get off the couch and lace up the ol' running shoes? If losing weight and improving your health won't do the trick, how about helping those in need?

Charity Miles is a free app (Android|iOS) that donates money to charity based on your physical activity: walking, biking, or running. In other words, instead of merely exercising for yourself, now you're exercising for others.

The app is a basic distance monitor that relies on your phone's GPS to track your mileage. You simply choose from the three possible activities, then swipe to select from a variety of very worthy causes: Autism Speaks, Feeding America, The Michael J. Fox Foundation, Stand Up to Cancer, and so on.

Charity Miles is funded by various corporate partners who, together, have pooled $1 million. Your goal: get moving to help drain that entire pool (in the direction of charities, that is).

What's nice is that you can run the app even when you're not expressly exercising, like when you hoof it from work to the train station, take the dog out for a stroll, or even just enjoy a leisurely bike ride. The only goal here is distance; the more you log, the more gets donated. (Bikers earn 10 cents per mile; walkers and runners, 25 cents.) Alas, it lacks support for treadmills and other stationary exercisers. If you want to contribute, you'll have to log actual miles.

I tested the iOS version of the app, which has no built-in music controls or any other RunKeeper -style features, though you can certainly listen to music while using it. Although the tracking seemed to work well enough, I couldn't get it to share my results on Facebook. Hopefully the developers will iron out this bug, as half the goal here would seem to be spreading the word about the app.

As CNET's Danny Sullivan recently discovered, the whole "quantified self" thing doesn't always work as a motivating force. But maybe the motivation you need is helping others. Once you start using Charity Miles, it's awfully hard to stop.

 

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