Generally speaking, getting in shape is a selfish endeavor. We usually try to get in shape because we want to look better or feel better about ourselves. I mean, we could say we’re doing it for our kids or for our loved ones but if we’re honest, it’s mostly about self-image. I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong with that, although we can become obsessed with it and let vanity rule our lives, but let’s just assume that we’re not taking it that far.

Charity Miles image

What if, in addition to trying to get in shape for our own selfish reasons, we could also help someone in need? That’s the concept behind Charity Miles. Charity Miles allows you to earn money for charity when you walk, run, or bike.

I first heard about Charity Miles at South by Southwest. I participated in the daily Brooks Cowboy Run and someone handed me a postcard on my way back to my hotel following a run. If you’ve ever been to SxSW before, then you know that you are inundated with people trying to get you to check out their new app, product or service. So, I stuffed the postcard in my bag when I got back to my hotel and forgot about it. Last week, I was cleaning out my bag in preparation for a meeting and I found the postcard. I decided to check out Charity Miles, so I downloaded the app and checked out the website.

How does it work?

From the Charity Miles website: “Ready to become a sponsored athlete? Simply turn on the app, choose a charity, and press start. As you exercise, we’ll track your distance and the money earned. When you’re finished, accept your sponsorship, spread the word, and we’ll send you a note confirming your good work. It’s as easy as this: get moving. Bikers earn 10¢ a mile and walkers and runners earn 25¢ a mile, up to our initial $1,000,000 sponsorship pool.”

As a dedicated Nike+ user, my typical running routine is to either use the Nike+ app on my phone or use the Nike+ app on my iPod touch in conjunction with the Zombies, Run! app. So, instead of using the Nike+ app or the Zombies, Run! app, I have started to use the Charity Miles app in conjunction with my iPod touch. (I’ve got to keep logging those Nike+ miles!)

For me, the best feature is the ability to see the direct impact of each run, walk or bike… my 2.361 mile run with Feeding America selected as the charity accounted for 4.72 meals to hungry people.

So far, my experience with the Charity Miles app has been pretty good, although, the first time I used it it crashed and I lost my run. Not a good way to start - especially since it was a 4 mile run. Since that first experience, the app has been solid and I’ve been able to see the value in using the app as a way to help charitable organizations without any extra effort on my part.

Current organizations include:

  • VisionSpring
  • every mother counts
  • Feeding America
  • Autism Speaks
  • Wounded Warrior Project
  • Stand Up To Cancer
  • Achilles International
  • The Michael J. Fox Foundation
  • Red
  • World Food Programme
  • The Nature Conservancy
  • ASPCA
  • Habitat for Humanity
  • Leukemia & Lymphoma Society
  • Partnership for a Healthier America
  • Pencils of Promise
  • Girl Up
  • Shot @ Life
  • NothingButNets.net
  • IronMan Foundation
  • DoSomething.org

As you can see, whether you want to help out here in the US or internationally, there are plenty of charities to choose from.

For me, the best feature is the ability to see the direct impact of each run, walk or bike. In addition to showing how long or how far you ran, there is an impact screen that shows the direct impact of your workout. For example, my 2.361 mile run with Feeding America selected as the charity accounted for 4.72 meals to hungry people while my 1.775 mile run with Habitat for Humanity as the selected charity accounted for 4.44 pieces of lumber.

At the end of each run, you also have the chance to share your run via Twitter or Facebook, sharing your run with not only your friends, but also the organization that you supported.

I ran 1.775 @charitymiles for @habitat_org. #EveryMileMatters— Brad Hopkins (@gbradhopkins)

May 17, 2013 So, are you looking for a little extra motivation? Tired of running from zombies? I’d recommend giving the Charity Miles app a try. It’s available for iOS and Android.

Have a question? Found this useful? Let me know on Twitter, .