Get paid to walk with Bounts - via a fitness tracker or your phone
If you don't feel that being in shape, having better health, or calf muscles the size of tree trunks is rewarding enough for your exercise and workout efforts, there's a new way you can earn high street vouchers simply by keeping active.
Sign up to free fitness rewards app Bounts, connect it to your fitness tracker or smartphone app, and you'll earn points - referred to as bounts - when you walk, exercise, go to the gym and more. Once you've amassed enough points, these can be converted into vouchers to be used at retailers and restaurants such as Amazon, John Lewis, Sainsbury's, Pizza Express, M&S and Cineworld (full Bounts redemption list).
So if you're doing even relatively minor exercise (7,000 steps a day) it's easy money for no change. On the basic level, just with walking alone, in eight months you'd accrue £5 at Tesco, Argos, New Look and others - but if you do a bigger variety of exercise or upgrade the app it will be much quicker.
What's more, if you use the referral code eabry858 when signing up, you get 100 extra points after your first activity!!
What is Bounts and why on earth is it paying me to exercise?
It was founded in 2011 by a team that says its mission is to help motivate people to exercise at least once a day, and is supported by Oxford University. Though it's a commercial app making money, it's linking with the fitness industry to encourage exercise - a decent aim.
Sport and fitness organisations pay to use Bounts to increase physical activity and participation for their communities. These organisations include governing bodies such as the Lawn Tennis Association and the Rugby Football Union, and gym/leisure centre groups such as Everyone Active. Bounts users are incentivised to engage in these.
The idea being, that if you're getting rewarded, you'll dust off the tennis racket and play more, or squeeze into some spandex and head to the gym more often.
It also has ads and a premium subscription for users.
How does it monitor my exercise? There's a few ways it tracks this:
Via a fitness tracker. Bounts connects to activity tracking apps to record your activities - many are supported including Fitbit, Jawbone, Garmin, Misfit (see our cheap fitness trackers round-up). You will then need to sync your fitness tracker to its app on the same device as Bounts for it to register.
Via a smartphone fitness app. If you don't have a fitness tracker, just get free apps on your smartphone such as RunKeeper, MapMyFitness, Moves, and Apple's default iPhone Health app.
Via the Bounts app itself. For checking into the gym or sports centres, based on GPS technology or Bluetooth.
How much exercise do I need to do?
There are three types of activity that Bounts will reward you on - steps, tracked exercise, and checking in at the gym - and each of these can get you five points (known as bounts) per day (15 in total) on the free version.
Steps. You'll need to complete 7,000 in a day to bank five points - about the equivalent of walking 5km or running 8km (but of course, that's quicker than walking 5km). According to the NHS, the average person takes between 3,000 and 4,000 steps in a day (MSE founder Martin Lewis is a fitness tracker addict and averages 17,000 a day, so it is doable) but a target for a healthy heart should be 10,000 a day.
Tracked exercise. To get your next five points, you'll need to do 20 minutes of continuous exercise in a day. This can include walking at a brisk pace (an average of 4km/h so don't pause to take in the scenery too much), running, cycling or swimming, depending on which tracker you use. Of course, walking has the advantage that you're also getting steps.
Attending gym/sports centre. The final five points you can earn in a day come from using the app to check in at gyms and sports centres for at least 30 minutes - so no walking in and straight back out to the fast-food place next door - though we've heard some people report just walking past counts.
So, how many points do I need for rewards & how long is it going to take?
It all depends on how much activity you do, but let's say you took 7,000 steps and did 20 minutes of exercise every day, and went to the gym three times a week, you'd earn 85 points a week with the free version.
Here's how many points you need for rewards at major retailers - which you choose on the website or in the app - so you can get that cup of coffee, or that free cheat pizza at the end of the week:
£5 voucher for Tesco, Argos, Halfords, Morrisons, New Look, Sports Direct, Tesco or WHSmith - 1,389 points. Using the example above, this would take you under three and a half months to accumulate as a free member, taking into consideration the 100 bonus points you received when signing up.
£10 voucher for Amazon, John Lewis, M&S, Boots, Costa Coffee, Curry's PC World, Debenhams, Pizza Hut, Primark, River Island, Sainsbury's or Toys R Us - 2,778 points. This would take seven months as a free member, with the bonus points.
It is possible you'll achieve the points necessary to get a £5 or £10 voucher quicker - Bounts gives extra points for joining monthly challenges, for promoting it on social media and when playing its ‘Rewards Wheel' within the app.
This app was recommended by Martin Lewis, The Money Saving Expert. Read his notes about upgrading to a premium account, and see if it it's worth it for you or not.