New smartphone app encourages physical activity among youth
The American Heart Association and NFL partner on project
The American Heart Association (AHA) and the NFL have launched the NFL PLAY 60 app, which encourages kids to get active and healthy through an endless runner game. Funded by a grant from the NFL Foundation, the app encourages players to get their 60 minutes of daily recommended physical activity through an interactive running experience.
Smartphones measure their movement
Players are immersed in an adventure where they are required to run, jump, pivot, and turn in place in order for their character to do the same. Players choose an avatar and run through the virtual world where they encounter obstacles, which they avoid by physically moving their bodies. Smartphones are able to measure this movement and scoring is determined by duration of play and successful navigation of obstacles.
Other components of the app include the ability to collect digital coins as rewards that can be redeemed for ‘digital swag’ in the form of outfits for the avatars. This allows users to dress their avatar in their favorite NFL team clothing.
In and out of the classroom
The app is an extension of the nine year relationship between the American Heart Association and the NFL, which has largely focused on increasing physical activity among America’s youth through programs like the NFL PLAY 60 Challenge. The NFL PLAY 60 Challenge is a six-week program that aims to increase middle school students’ physical activity levels, in and out of the classroom. The program educates children about staying fit and creates an engaging and fun environment at school that seeks to inspire students to be physically active for at least 60 minutes every day. The NFL PLAY 60 Challenge is implemented by all 32 NFL clubs and has reached more than 2 million students.
Childhood obesity widespread
“One-third of U.S. children and adolescents are overweight or obese and at a higher risk for heart disease and stroke. Engaging young people in physical activity is one of the best ways to decrease their risk for heart disease,” said Mariell Jessup, M.D., President of the American Heart Association. “We’re proud to partner with the NFL in developing an innovative way to reach adolescents, through their schools and now via their smartphones, in an effort to impact their lives earlier to make their lives longer.”
Both the NFL PLAY 60 app and the NFL PLAY 60 Challenge program aim to reduce the amount of obese and overweight children who are at increased risk for serious health problems, including heart disease. Overweight children are more likely to grow up to be overweight adults and more likely to develop heart problems.
“The NFL is committed to helping our nation’s youth get active and healthy,” said Anna Isaacson, NFL Vice President of Community Relations and Philanthropy. “We are pleased to expand our relationship with the American Heart Association with this unique app that challenges kids to get 60 minutes of daily physical activity by using their favorite smartphones.”
The NFL Play 60 app is available for free download in the iTunes store starting today. The Android version will be available on February 14, 2014. For more information about the app please visit www.heart.org/nflplay60.