Keeping healthy and fit is a challenge, especially in our grey city full of cheap unhealthy food, brutal winters and a frequently high AQI. For kids, good health habits form the bedrock of adulthood, but spending formative years sitting hunched over endless homework, being overfed by nainai and a minimal focus on physical education can be problematic.Naturally, the key is education. As parents, it’s our job to encourage healthy eating and fitness habits early on in our kid’s lives to prevent childhood obesity. Luckily there are a plethora of well made, usually free apps designed for teens and pre-teens to get them to use tablets and smartphones in an active way. After all, if their faces are glued to their screens anyway, they might as well do something healthy and productive.
NFL Play 60 (Free)
Sponsored by the American Heart Association and the NFL, this free AR (augmented reality) game enables kids to run continuous obstacle courses collecting coins and power ups. These can be redeemed to buy in-game gear for your rather adorable, customizable avatar. This game requires holding an iPhone or tablet while jogging in place or jumping, so be aware of risk to the device. Use a lanyard and tell your child to play over a rug or large yoga mat.
Sworkit Kids (Free)
A teen friendly version of the extremely popular Sworkit line of fitness apps, this app is the best reviewed on the list. This sleek, well designed app enables kids to plan workouts based on improving fitness in several categories, like strength, agility and balance. You can also share your routines and progress with friends, if competition is a good motivator. It’s simple, easy to use and doesn’t contain patronizing or baby-ish graphics or voice-overs, making it ideal for older kids.
Wokamon (Free, In-App Purchases)
Not to be confused with Pokemon Go (although, “Wokamon” seems close to copyright infringement), Wokamon is actually far less buggy than its similarly named competition. The game play is simple; a pedometer counts your steps, and steps create energy. Energy can then be used to feed, grow and collect the various exceptionally cute Wokemon. You can then explore different worlds as you progress in the game. Works well with a fitbit, but otherwise can work with your phone’s GPS to track your movement.
C-Fit Yoga (USD 2.99)
According to the Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, teens can benefit immensely from yoga. A regular practice helps reduce anxiety, depression, angry outbursts, relieve stress and possibly improve poor attention spans. If your kid is a yoga newbie, try the C-Fit yoga app. Created by teachers and designed as a classroom program, C-Fit Yoga presents four ten-minute yoga videos with clear instructions for proper poses. Design, however, is cheesy, with a very “PowerPoint presentation in Comic Sans” look.
Zombies, Run! (Free, Pro Membership USD 19.99 a year)
The most creative app on the list, Zombies, Run! is a mostly audio based RPG (role playing game) that allows players to wear headphones and jog outdoors or on a treadmill evading zombies and collecting supplies. The storyline is engrossing, and adds a lot of motivation to the monotony of jogging. When you hear the undead hordes groaning in your ear, your adrenaline kicks in and you’ll run for your life. Exhilarating, but not for the faint-hearted. Also not appropriate for kids under 12 due to the extremely gory and violent storyline.
Dungeon Runner (Free, In-App Purchases)
Graphically resembling a vintage SNES game, Dungeon Runner uses motion tracking technology and your tablet’s front-facing camera. You’ll kick-box enemies, squat through passageways and jump over pits. Progressing through the game means your child is becoming more fit with every monster vanquished. This is great motivation for die hard arcade gamer kids, and is the beginning of a revolution of very playable, fun fitness games.
Photos: Google Play, Apple Store
This article appeared on p16-17 beijingkids November 2017 issue.
Download your copy here.