In an era where we’re all spending so much time indoors, keeping kids active is especially important. Physical activity benefits a child’s development in many ways, from building motor and cognitive skills to promoting the development of healthy bones and muscles.
“The benefits of staying physically fit and staying active, it’s good for the body, the physiological benefits, but then there’s also just a huge mental aspect of just getting out and doing stuff,” said Chris Peters, owner/operator of SafeSplash in Holland.
“They just get a good feeling about themselves,” said Sue Hays, owner of Mini Motions Dance Center on Tremainsville Rd. “When they leave class, they’re feeling healthier and they’re feeling more positive. And that’s what we want, we want them to feel happy and positive and healthy.”
To help your kids stay mentally and physically fit in a way that’s both educational and fun, encourage them to download an app – or three. Here are some of the top fitness apps available, and the best part? They’re all free!
Eat-And-Move-O-Matic (ages 9-18)
If you want your kids to understand the consequences of their food choices, Eat-And-Move-O-Matic is the right app for them. Created by the Learning Game Lab at New Mexico State University, the app teaches kids to be aware of what they eat or drink. It lets them compare the calories in their food choices with the type and length of time of physical activities like biking, running, or walking needed to burn off those calories.
Monster Heart Medic (ages 9-12)
Monster Heart Medic teaches kids about a topic few other apps cover: the cardiovascular system and how to stay heart-healthy. Created by the University of California, Berkeley, the app features a friendly monster named Ragnar who suffers from cardiovascular problems and needs their help. Kids help Ragnar by running various diagnostic tests to figure out what’s causing the problems. The app also has tips for leading a healthier life, from reputable organizations like the American Heart Association, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the National Institutes of Health.
Stretch Break for Kids (ages 5-12)
Do your kids spend hours at a time hunched over their laptops or phones without getting up? If so, encourage them to download Stretch Break for Kids. The app has various stretching exercises designed to relax the neck and back muscles that are most affected by bad posture and repetitive strain. The exercises are demonstrated by other kids, who prompt viewers at intervals to keep moving through the exercises.
NFL Play 60 (ages 5-18)
If your kids love sports, especially football, but it’s hard to get them to do any actual exercise, NFL Play 60 is the ideal app for them. Created by the NFL, in collaboration with the American Heart Association, the app allows kids to pretend that they’re professional football players, but instead of simply making their on-screen avatars run and jump, they have to get off the couch and actually run, jump, catch and turn to make their avatars move. The app also counts the steps they’ve taken while playing the game.
Super Stretch Yoga (ages 9-18)
Besides meditation, a great way for kids to relax their minds and bodies for optimal health is to practice yoga. Super Stretch Yoga, created by well-known yoga instructor Jessica Rosenberg, teaches kids yoga through video demonstrations by other kids, with a focus on breathing and movement. It’s narrated by a character named Super Stretch and features 12 different poses with different skill levels. Kids can use the built-in camera to take pictures of themselves doing the various poses.
Three Good Things: A
Happiness Journal (ages 5-18)
It’s a science-backed fact that mental health is impacted by an overall sense of well-being. If your kids need a little boost and enjoy writing, encourage them to download Three Good Things: A Happiness Journal. The app helps kids think positively by writing daily about three good experiences they’ve had. The app has a feature that lets kids upload and share their writings on social media.