THERE’S a new app that will help kids and teens be physically active while still playing games on their phones and tablets.
The World Health Organization has teamed up with FIFA and the Ministry of Public Health of Qatar to launch GenMove, a new digital game that aims to get millions of young people moving to improve their health and well-being.
GenMove became available to the public on the eve of the November 20 opening of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, and can be downloaded for free on iOS and android devices.
The games app won’t just get players’ fingers moving.
To play the games, kids and teens would have to use the camera to track their actions, as they would be required to do a range of different movements to advance to the next level.
The actions involve jumping, reaching, and kicking, as the GenMove games are built around popular sports such as football. These are meant to build children’s confidence and get them to enjoy movement, according the WHO.
The games could be played outdoors or indoors on a mobile phone or tablet, and would only require a small space, it said.
Have fun while being healthy
The app uses advanced movement tracking and artificial intelligence technology to provide young people with a “vigorous video game experience,” it said.
Alisson Becker, Brazil’s national goalkeeper and WHO Goodwill Ambassador for Health Promotion, hailed the release of the app, as playing it is both fun and healthy.
“Technology opens the world for everybody, but sometimes it can make you stay seated for too much time. So, the GenMove platform helps you with that. At the same time, you can have fun with your kids, or themselves alone, and be doing something healthy,” Becker said.
Why exercise is so important
The WHO hopes it would get more children around the world to be physically active.
“Regular physical activity has major, lifelong benefits for physical and mental health, and is essential for the healthy development of children,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General.
Ghebreyesus said the app “can be a powerful tool to reach young people and get them moving, especially children who might not play sports regularly.”
HananMohamed Al Kuwari, Minister of Public Health of Qatar, said also underscored the importance of physical activity especially since the pandemic had left many cooped up at home.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted so hard on young people – limiting physical education and school sports – so it is vital we invest in promoting physical activity and leverage digital technologies to provide new and fun ways to be active,” she said.
While the game is meant for kids 8 to 15 years old, there’s nothing to stop older people from downloading the app and playing it as well.
So many sedentary kids
The launch of the app comes as many kids and teens remain glued to their phones and tablets where they spend hours playing games.
The WHO recommends that children and adolescents get an average of 60 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity per day. These should also include activities that strengthen bones and muscles at least thrice a week.
But many are far from reaching this target.
The WHO noted that more than 80 percent of adolescents do not meet these recommendations, indicating that many spend their days being sedentary and inactive.
This lack of physical activity is associated with poor fitness, weight gain and reduced sleep.
Fiona Bull, head of the Physical Activity Unit at WHO, warned that physical inactivity comes with very high costs to public health.
“Therefore, getting children to enjoy being active and build habits into every day is critical to preventing future noncommunicable diseases, such as heart disease, overweight and obesity, hypertension, diabetes and many cancers,” Bull said.