One of the biggest problems with exercising is the trouble getting motivated. Granted, it's nice to lose weight and stay in shape, but working out can be boring for some people. Worse yet, we may stop doing it after we lose interest, don't see enough results or just can't stand the thought of doing it any longer.
But a new digital currency is trying to change that.
Dubbed Sweatcoin, the currency aims to compel you to exercise and stay healthy by providing a financial incentive. Each time you get up off the couch to jump on your Peloton bike, take a quick walk with the dog or simply move around outside the house, Sweatcoin tracks your movement and logs it into its app. It then converts all the training points you've racked up into cold, hard cash you can use to buy stuff.
Here's everything you need to know about Sweatcoin.
What, exactly, is Sweatcoin?
At its core, Sweatcoin is a mobile app that tracks your movement throughout the day and converts the steps you take into cash. The concept is to incent you to get off the couch, break away from the desk at work and start moving. In addition to helping you feel better, look better and just be healthier, Sweatcoin hopes to put a few extra bucks in your pocket.
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Where can I get Sweatcoin?
Sweatcoin is available on both smartphones and wearables. It's available for iOS and Android, as well as for the Apple Watch.
Which devices does Sweatcoin support?
Sweatcoin is designed to work with iPhones and the Apple Watch on the Apple side, though only the iPhone 5s or newer devices are compatible. Over on Android, you'll need to have a handset that has Android 4.4 or newer.
OK, I've downloaded it. Now what?
Once you've successfully downloaded the free app, you'll have some work to do before you can start earning coin.
Sweatcoin walks you through the process of creating a username and verifying that it's fine for the app to know where you're going and track your movement without your app being open. It'll also ask for your email address and phone number.
Once you're fully verified, the app opens, and you're ready to start walking. As you walk more, you rack up steps. The conversion from steps to Sweatcoin is a bit of a moving target, but generally speaking, for every 1,000 steps you take, you'll earn a single Sweatcoin. Actual real-world-currency value depends on what you’re buying and the price affixed to it. In fact, some of the pricing seems arbitrary and not tied to an exact exchange rate.
In addition to tracking your steps, the app is your repository for all things Sweatcoin. In the app, you can see how many Sweatcoin you'll need to buy audiobooks, get an Amazon credit or even get your hands on a $1,000 Delta Airlines ticket, or an iPhone 8.
Additionally, the app gives you a history of what you've purchased with Sweatcoin, lets you see how your friends are doing with the program and, yes, gives you the option to upgrade to a paid plan.
What can I buy with Sweatcoin?
Once you have enough Sweatcoin to shop, you can go to the Sweatcoin marketplace in the app to see what you can buy. As of this writing, options include audiobooks, male compression tops, an iPhone 8 and a curved Samsung television.
You'll notice that all of the options are priced differently based on the cost of the product. Want $1,000 in cash from PayPal? It'll cost you 20,000 Sweatcoin. A $50 Nike gift card costs 3,650 Sweatcoin.
What activities can Sweatcoin track?
For now, Sweatcoin tracks only your steps. If you want it to track your movement while you swim or engage in other activities, you're out of luck.
Does it work inside?
Officially, no. But as I found, the app often didn't realize I wasn't inside my house and would track my movement, regardless. So, there's a chance you might get some extra steps registered.
What's the translation from steps to Sweatcoin?
If you search the internet for this one, you might get a few answers. But based on my experience with the app, you earn one Sweatcoin for every 1,000 steps.
Additionally, on the basic Mover plan, you're limited to earning 5 Sweatcoin a day and up to 150 Sweatcoin a month.
If you want to earn more Sweatcoin per day, you can sign up for better exchange rates on your steps and the ability to rack up more Sweatcoin per day.
There's a paid account? Really?
A few, actually. And here's where things get a little complicated.
When you first sign up for Sweatcoin, you automatically have a Mover account, which is free to use forever. With it, you can earn up to 5 Sweatcoin per day and 150 Sweatcoin per month. If you walk any more than that (and why would you?), you can't earn any more Sweatcoin until the next month.
If you really want a high-priced iPhone 8 or simply want to rack up Sweatcoin, you'll need to move to a paid plan.
The cheapest paid plan is called Shaker, which allows you to earn up to 10 Sweatcoin per day or 300 Sweatcoin per month. It costs 4.75 Sweatcoin per month.
If you step up to the Quaker plan, you'll earn 15 Sweatcoin per day and up to 450 Sweatcoin per month, but it'll cost you 20 Sweatcoin per month. The Breaker plan costs 30 Sweatcoin a month and gives you the ability to earn up to 20 Sweatcoin per day and 600 Sweatcoin per month.
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Yes, you read that correctly: You can pay for your paid plan with Sweatcoin that you accumulate by walking around. So, technically, if you walk around enough, each paid plan that lets you get more Sweatcoin per day and month is still free. But don't forget that those Sweatcoin translate to real-world cash, so you're losing some money in the transaction.
Sweatcoin doesn't offer a plan for you to simply pay real cash for the tiered plans, so get walking.
Can I send Sweatcoin to friends or family?
You bet. In the app, there's an option to "Send to friend." Choose that, and select the person you'd like to send some or all of your Sweatcoin to. That person will get a credit for that amount and will be able to use the Sweatcoin as his or her own.
What if I want to compete with friends and family?
Go for it. There's a feature inside the Sweatcoin app that will let you follow your friends and family and create a leaderboard to see who's doing the best job of staying healthy.
How does it track my movement, and is it tracking me all day?
To track your movement, Sweatcoin needs access to both the GPS feature and the accelerometer on your smartphone or Apple Watch. You'll need to provide access to that data through the Sweatcoin app for it to track your movement.
The app must also be set to track your movement even when it isn't open, which can impact battery life.
What about my phone's battery life?
That might be a problem. Having an app track your movements all day long via GPS and the accelerometer is really bad for your battery. Sweatcoin even warns you that the app will dramatically impact your battery when you allow it to track you.
In my time with the app, my battery started draining really quickly. Expect a significant amount of time to be shaved from your smartphone's endurance when you have Sweatcoin running.
Are there major privacy implications here?
Not everyone likes being tracked everywhere … they … go. And for good reason. What is Sweatcoin going to do with all that data? Where is the data going?
The policy also discusses the many potential uses of your personal data, including your location and how you use the service: It can be used to market the company's services to you, operate the marketplace and investigate "suspected fraud or other criminal activities."
So, yes, there are some privacy concerns here. But if you want to take advantage of all that Sweatcoin has to offer, it could be worth the trade-off.
"and verifying that it's fine for the app to know where you're going and track your movement without your app being open"
Complete no. Not a chance. No way, no how.
"Sweatcoin even warns you that the app will dramatically impact your battery when you allow it to track you."
What about this sounds like a GoodIdea?
For 3,650 coins, you get a $50 gift card. If you're getting one coin per 1,000 steps or so, with the average men's stride being about 2.5 feet, you're in the neighborhood of one coin per half-mile. So that makes about 1825 miles you have to travel to earn a *$50 gift card*.
But before you take off on your walk from Portland, Maine to Miami, Florida to grab your $50 gift card, you can only earn 570 coins a month. You also can't earn more than 20 coins a day, so in a 30 day month, you have to walk at least 10 miles every single day to get to 570 a month (600 minus the 30 you have to give back to them as "payment").
So after your 1825-mile walk, which you've spread out evenly over ten-mile strolls over seven months, you finally get that $50 Nike gift card, which will score you half of a pair of shoes! Of course, since the typical recommendation for when to replace shoes is 500 miles, you're also on your fourth pair of shoes.
Is it worth it? An extra $50 per year is nothing (about the same I make for walking dogs in a day), but it is free money. The down side is the extra drain on your battery (which doesn't last for ever) and may require a battery replacement a lot sooner than expected, and can be costly. As I tend to keep a cellphone for many years before upgrading, I'd likely have to replace the battery before replacing the cellphone. If battery replacement costs $100, then that's the same as walking for 2 years to pay for the replacement.
Although I don't consider this a scam, I'm not convinced this is worth my time to collect.