Parenting and Media: Keep Kids Healthy with Engaging Fitness Apps

Government statistics indicate that one-third of all children in the U.S. are obese and overweight. Diet and lack of exercise are leading culprits in this trend, and the onset of digital media hasn't helped. Kids are spending a lot more time sitting around using online media, playing video games and fussing with gadgets than they used to. You can turn this problem around by utilizing the right apps to keep your kids engaged and get them more interested in their health. Here are some suggestions for apps that might help to keep your kids more active and more engaged in their health.

Zamzee

Zamzee is an innovative website project that really gets kids engaged in fitness. The app requires an additional purchase of an activity monitor; it's about the size of a flash drive and can be clipped to your child's shirt or belt. The monitor then records the amount of activity that the child engages in, and it can be uploaded to the web. Kids earn points for the amount of running, jumping and other physical activities that they engage in.

Here's where it gets really fun for the kids. You can advance-purchase a toy or prize on the Zamzee website for your child (most are $5 to $10 in price). The toy or prize your purchase is reserved until your child earns enough points via activities to truly attain or "purchase" the prize. It's a great way to attach goal-setting to their activity level. It costs about $30 for the monitor and the website registration, but this app has proven to be very effective in getting kids more active, so the cost can pay off.

MotionMaze

MotionMaze is a great app for smaller kids. It is downloadable from App Store online. It's a puzzle game that requires physical movement to play. Kids help guide “Captain Mapp” through mazes by walking and running in place.

Monumental

This is a free iPhone app that helps kids improve their fitness and geography at the same time. Your child can download the app from the Internet, and choose a monument somewhere in the world that they'd like to climb. Then when they climb real stairs, they get to "climb" the monument on the screen. Once they've climbed enough stairs to reach the top of the monument, they get to collect digital souvenirs and check out the view from the top. The different monuments they can climb include Big Ben, the Statue of Liberty, the Eiffel Tower and even a Pyramid of Giza.

Munch 5-a-Day

Munch 5-a-Day has been ranked as one of the top health apps for children (and adults). It is a free iPhone app that helps keep track of how many servings of fruits and vegetables your child eats every day. They can set a daily goal, and they earn badges for munching on enough healthy snacks over a period of time. There may not be exercises included with this one, but the design is beautiful and appealing and keeps kids engaged in setting goals for healthier eating.

Trainer

Trainer is a health game that allows kids to take care of a virtual creature. Each animal in the game has unique nutritional and fitness needs. They have to choose the right foods to feed the animal. Children can also work out with their virtual pet by doing exercises in front of their web cam. It helps kids to learn about the connections between diet, exercise and healthy living.

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