Exercising makes you feel good. Helping others makes you—and of course, others—feel good, too. So on this Giving Tuesday, the annual international day of charitable giving that falls five days after Thanksgiving, why not combine the two?
Here, we’ve rounded up 10 ways that fitness enthusiasts can use their passion for exercise to pay it forward, through workouts completed for charity, time volunteered with recreation programs, and money donated to fitness-centric causes. And if you’re too late for Giving Tuesday? Don’t sweat it. You can lend your support any day of the year.
Help others while crushing your fitness goals with these pay-it-forward opportunities:
- About: Download this free app that transforms your runs, hikes, bike rides, and even dance parties into fundraising endeavors. Charity Miles partners with more than 40 big-name nonprofits—like Habitat for Humanity, ALS Association, Stand Up to Cancer, and Operation Smile—and for every mile of movement that you log through the app, they’ll donate money from their corporate sponsorship pool to the cause of your choice. (The amount donated per mile changes every month based on number of miles logged and funds available in the sponsorship pool.) You can get friends and family involved, too, by joining or creating a team through the app.
- Learn More: charitymiles.org
Walk For a Dog
- About: Take a walk with your furry BFF and support your favorite animal organization in the process. Simply leash up at least once per week—any distance greater than a quarter-mile counts—to be eligible to win donations for the pet charity of your choice or even the grand prize donation of $ 2,500. Bonus: you can also score treats for yourself.
- Learn More: wooftrax.com
One World Running
- About: This do-good opportunity technically comes after your workout—or rather, after many workouts. Drop off your old sneakers at more than 30 local fitness stores across the country, and this Colorado-based organization will clean them and send them to runners in need—both in the U.S. and around the world. If your shoes are too beat up to be worn by someone else, bring ‘em anyway. One World Running will send them to Nike’s Reuse-a-Shoe program in Beaverton, Oregon, which will grind up the old sneaks and transform them into running tracks and playgrounds.
- Learn More: oneworldrunning.com
Make a difference in your local community with these fitness-themed volunteer opportunities:
- About: This 50-year-old organization hosts year-round sports training and athletic competitions in a variety of sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities. Volunteer support is essential to maintaining their programming, which reaches millions of athletes in more than 160 countries. You can lend your time and support to a local chapter as a coach, trainer, official event organizer, fundraiser, manager, or unified athlete (a partner playing alongside athletes with intellectual disabilities).
- Learn More: specialolympics.org/get-involved/volunteer
Girls on the Run
- About: This 10-week after-school fitness program helps girls ages 8 to 13 build confidence, make friends, and develop positive emotional, social, mental, and other skills through weekly workouts and curriculum. Volunteers serve as mentors-slash-running-buddies and help the young athletes tackle life—and miles—as they train for the culminating event: a 5K race.
- Learn More: girlsontherun.org/Get-Involved/Volunteer
Back on My Feet
- About: This national non-profit, recently expanded to 13 cities across the U.S., tackles homelessness through running, community support, and employment and housing resources. Back on My Feet recruits individuals at homeless or addiction and treatment facilities around the country who then commit to run three early mornings a week. If they stick with their goals for 30 days, they’ll receive additional support through financial literacy classes, job skills training, transportation and housing help, and more. Sign up as a running buddy with a local chapter and provide participants with weekly companionship, encouragement, and accountability.
- Learn More: backonmyfeet.org/get-involved/volunteer
Donate funds to support the work of these reputable fitness-related organizations:
The following charities were vetted by Charity Navigator, an organization that evaluates nonprofits based on their financial health, accountability, and transparency. All received 4 stars—Charity Navigator's highest rating.
- About: This org promotes youth participation in sports by providing new footwear, apparel, and fitness equipment to kids in need. Since it was founded in 2003, Good Sports has donated more $ 39 million worth of new gear to more than 6 million underprivileged kids across all 50 states, according to their website.
- Learn More: goodsports.org
- About: Coaching Corps recruits, trains, and supports community members to become high-quality coaches to youth in underserved areas. According to the website, since its inception in 2002, they’ve placed more than 13,000 coaches with hundreds of after-school sports programs, serving more than 150,000 youth across the country.
- Learn More: coachingcorps.org
Kostopulos Dream Foundation
- About: This Utah-based foundation is dedicated to improving the quality of life for kids and adults with disabilities—regardless of ability level, income, or place of residence—through recreation and education opportunities. Their programming runs throughout the year, covering, at different times, a range of outdoor activities—from swimming, to horseback riding, camping, canoeing, challenge ropes courses, and more.
- Learn More: campk.org
Adaptive Sports Foundation
- About: ASF provides outdoor physical activity, education, support, and community to children and adults with physical and cognitive disabilities and chronic illnesses. Participants can partake in alpine skiing and snowboarding, and there’s also the summer military programming that teaches veterans golf, recreational and competitive canoeing and kayaking, cycling, stand up paddle boarding, and personal fitness.
- Learn More: adaptivesportsfoundation.org