New App Pays You to Workout, With Lyft Rides, Coffee, and Karate Classes

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Need some extra motivation along your way to becoming more fit? Do you love free stuff? There’s an iPhone-only app called Sweatcoin that basically pays you to move and exercise, and it costs nothing to use. The app uses your phone’s accelerometer and GPS to count steps, which earn you Sweatcoins, a digital currency you can redeem in the app for gadgets, meals out, or donations to your favorite charity. Every 1,000 steps earns you 0.95 Sweatcoins, and it’s as easy as that.

Before you throw your iPhone into a paint-shaker to rack up the Sweatcoins, you need to know that the app works very specifically, only tracking your steps outdoors when you have your phone on you. Rowing or cycling won't count. You can’t really trick this app into giving you free stuff; you can only leave the house and put one foot in front of the other. There is no real money exchanged when Sweatcoin users redeem their rewards. “Companies join the program to increase their exposure among a wellness-oriented audience,” says co-founder Danil Perushev. “But the main thing for me is that we can change people’s behavior and get them to walk more.”

The app works entirely on your own effort — there are no “teams” pooling their steps together. The aim is to motivate you at the individual level to go outside and start moving around. If you do it long enough and often enough, there’s some cool swag in it for you. What can you get in exchange for a vigorous walk? The complete listing has offers from 30 partners in the U.K. and about a dozen in the United States. They’re adding more all the time, but for now, you can get things like Lyft ride credit, personal training programs, karate classes, subscriptions to a coffee-by-mail service, and even a scooter.