by Elizabeth Engasser

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Disclaimer: Before having your child begin any exercise, please check with your child’s pediatrician or your primary care physician to ensure you’re choosing a safe and effective exercise routine.

 

In an age of smartphones and tablets, encouraging people to get moving and exercise can be a challenging task — even when it comes to our children.

Marc Major had this same thought when he created his app, Treasure Dash. “If your kids are like most, they enjoy upbeat, colorful games on the iPhone or iPad, but all that sitting around isn’t always good,” his game’s description reads on the Apple App Store.

Major isn’t wrong — according to the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition, only one in three children are physically active every day, and children nowadays spend more than seven and a half hours a day in front of a screen, whether it’s a TV, computer or a smartphone/tablet.

Wanting to create a way for kids to have fun and stay active, Major launched Treasure Dash and quickly saw the impact it could make on a child’s willingness to exercise. “I have footage of a friend’s son, he’s 10 years old, playing on a mini trampoline,” Major said. “He’s not motivated to do it by himself, but with this game, it becomes a whole new kind of fun exercise that he loves to do.”

Want to help your kid stay healthy, in spite of all the screen time? Check out these smartphone apps and games that encourage exercise, nutritional awareness and more:

Treasure Dash – Race for Lost Wonders 

Developer: Cardiogaming, LLC
Cost: FREE
Platforms Available: iOS

This game is played by standing up and jumping in place to get your character to move, who will move around in the game as you move! By tapping the buttons on the screen, you can jump, attack and collect coins, jewels and fruit (the fruit gives you power ups!). While moving around at a quick pace can be exciting, take note: monsters can come out and attack you from any direction, so being alert is key! Future developments to this game may include a multiplayer setting, so your children will all be able to play together for extra fun.

7 Minute Workouts with Lazy Monster

Developer: Ihar Sviryd
Cost: FREE (Offers In-App Purchases)
Platforms Available: iOS

The Center for Disease Control & Prevention recommends children get at least 60 minutes of exercise a day, and this app makes it easy for you to not only keep track of this, but to exercise right alongside your children! In “LazyMonster,” a little orange monster leads various workouts that don’t require any exercise equipment and can be completed in 30-second intervals — totaling up to 7 minutes of exercise by the end of each session. To keep kids coming back, the game has a built in rewards system that provides experience points and unlocks even more workouts.

Eat & Move-O-Matic

Company: Learning Games Lab, New Mexico State University
Cost: FREE
Platforms Available: iOS

This app is an informative way for children to learn how many calories are in the foods they eat, and how long they’ll have to exercise to burn them off. Most of the foods are generic, such as sandwiches and juices, but by rotating the activity wheel, your kids can be inspired to try out various activities, such as soccer, dancing and household chores.

NFL Play 60

Company: American Heart Association
Cost: FREE
Platforms Available: iOS, Android

This game gets your children up and moving in place to outrun a coach following you in this endless running game. Collect coins to earn points, and along the way grab football power-ups and hearts for extra lives. As your child progresses through the game, they can unlock new characters, more power-ups and check out fitness tips for how to stay active outside of the game.

MotionMaze

Company: Digido Interactive, Inc.
Cost: FREE
Platforms Available: iOS

Have your kids get up and move while hunting for buried treasure! This app has a treasure hunting character that the player controls through walking (we tried it walking up and down the hallways of our office). Arrows on each side of the screen allow the player to rotate the direction that the character is moving so they can navigate to the buried treasure. At the completion of each maze, a new one is unlocked to keep the adventure going.

This one’s great for adults, too!
Yaye – Fitness Motivation and Chat for Small Groups

Company: YAYE, LLC.
Cost: FREE
Platforms Available: iOS

A support system is vital for sticking with your fitness goals, and this app from creator Mike Salvaris helps you stay in touch with your team — even from great distances.

“Yaye” is an app that helps you connect with others to stick together while achieving like- minded exercise goals such as frequency of exercise, daily steps and overall weekly activity. This application ties in well with the iPhone’s health kit settings and provides opportunities for users to connect with others on their journey to better health.
Salvaris, who says the app has been used by support groups, grandparents with their grandkids and even members of various organizations (including the Obesity Action Coalition!), explained that the overall mission of this app is simple: to motivate people to move at the support of their friends and family.

“It’s not just (an app) where you get on it and someone’s yelling at you to do something,” Salvaris said. “Instead of just hassling someone (to exercise), you’re actually doing something together, and I think that’s the thing that’s really resonating with people.”

Conclusion
By thinking outside the box, technology will continue to progress and there will be even more apps released that encourage movement and get kids and adults alike active. Setting a good example and exercising alongside your children is a great way to keep the momentum going, and keeping them motivated to get up and move!

 

About the Author:
Elizabeth Engasser, is the Creative Content and Outreach Coordinator at the Obesity Action Coalition. She has worked in the nonprofit sector for more than two years.