Since the pandemic, society has grown increasingly digitised and housebound. According to a survey conducted in 2023, 66% of the population show signs of nomophobia, the fear of being without one’s phone. It has become all too easy to hide inside with the comfort of our technological devices; to only experience the world behind a screen.
The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) recently recommended a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week to prevent 11.5 million new cases of non-communicable diseases by 2050, including cases of depression. Since we are in the midst of a global mental health crisis, it is imperative that we are encouraged to go outside.
One interesting new concept is an app that pays you to walk. Somewhere between a video game and a pedometer, this type of app allows people to convert their daily steps into the game’s virtual currency. These “coins” can be exchanged for real money, or can be invested into charities or community projects.
Now, since many variations of these apps are emerging, how does one know which is the best one to use? After some research, I would recommend the following three: Macadam, Runtopia, and Charity Miles, depending on the goals of the user.
Macadam was first launched in July 2022, and already has over a million registered users, with 200,000 of them connecting several times a day, the founder, Benjamin Daudignac, said in an interview with Gearrice. Despite only currently being available in Europe, the app has been extremely successful.
The colourful pastel graphics encourage users in, and turns walking into a fun and even addictive game. The app’s slogan is “Walk and Earn,” which is simple and inviting, and the website boldly advertises “rewards galore.”
So how does it actually work?
Macadam gives users 200 coins for every 20,000 steps they take, and when the 30,000 coin milestone is reached, 15 euros in real money can be transferred straight into their bank accounts.
Alternatively, one can invest coins in trees, helping to capture some of the CO2 in the atmosphere and contributing to a greener planet! Macadam generates the money to do this through ad revenue.
However, the only downside to this app is that it is more difficult to earn “rewards galore” on Macadam than the app seems to imply. Money cannot be cashed out until one reaches the 30,000 coin threshold, which would require three million steps. Some would argue that three million steps is a lot of effort for 15 euros, as it could take months. Yet this app was never intended to be relied on as a primary income, and is, first and foremost, a game.
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In my opinion, Macadam is capable of having a really positive impact on the population, as it encourages people to get out of their houses, and makes walking fun and trendy.
The second app I would recommend is Runtopia, which is more angled at those on a specific fitness journey. The focus of the app is to improve the user’s fitness, and within it one can set exercise goals for walking, running, and cycling. The app even provides an audio coach to play during workouts.
The rewards that Runtopia grants users are intended to be a secondary purpose of the app, after improving fitness. Completing daily tasks and participating in the Runtopia community gives a user Sports Coins. These Sports Coins can be redeemed for products, coupons, free memberships, and even PayPal cash!
The final app that I would recommend is Charity Miles. When a user downloads the app, they can choose from a list of charities to support, and their exercise accumulates into real donations towards the charity of their choice.
The website describes their members as “active-ists,” living healthy whilst helping others.
Charity Miles members have already earned over 2.5 million dollars for various charities just by walking, running, and cycling. The app’s slogan is: “Are you ready to make a change?”
Charity Miles allows users to be part of something bigger than themselves and help the world around them, simply by exercising. And if that’s not enough motivation to leave the house, I don’t know what is!
Pay-to-walk apps such as Macadam, Runtopia, and Charity Miles are an interesting and novel way to improve our physical and mental health, and encourage us to look up from our screens and out at what is in front of us. Not only can exercise be a game, but it can also be a way to raise money for charity, and even in some cases, help the planet.
Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed here by the authors are their own, not those of Impakter.com — In the Featured Photo: Man walking in a woodland area. Featured Photo Credit: Flickr.