Boosting Children’s Physical Wellbeing with Zamzee

Boosting Children’s Physical Wellbeing with Zamzee

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090611-N-3271W-003 CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (June 11, 2009) Local area children test their fitness skills during a Junior Seal Fitness Challenge at Warner Park organized by the Navy and the Chattanooga Parks and Recreation Department. The event is in conjunction with Chattanooga Navy Week, one of 21 Navy Weeks planned across America in 2009. Navy Weeks are designed to show Americans the investment they have made in their Navy and increase awareness in cities that do not have a significant Navy presence. (U.S. Navy photo by Senior Chief Mass Communication Specialist Gary Ward/Released)

Zamzee Gamification Software Turns Kids on to Physical Activity

Health care experts warn that child obesity rates are rising to alarming levels. With the increase in obesity-related medical conditions, such as diabetes, it’s no wonder that parents and health professionals alike are looking for ways to keep children healthy. A good diet is one part of the equation. But an equally important part of child health is physical activity. Gamification startup HopeLab developed a technological way to keep kids on the move while tracking this activity at the same time. The company’s gamification software is called Zamzee.

While many children may understand that physical activity is good for their health, getting them to exercise and to stick to any kind of physical routine is challenging. According to HopeLab, child physical activity declines 60 percent between the ages of 9 and 15. That’s no coincidence. That age range coincides with the period when child use of computers, mobile devices, and other technology increases.

Zamzee takes children’s affinity for technology and turns it into a way to engage their interest in physical activity. Children wear a Zamzee activity meter that tracks their physical activity and calculates the intensity of the movement. The tracker works with the website Zamzee.com, which engages children by presenting them with games and challenges that they must complete by doing physical activity, explains Xconomy.

Besides presenting children with physical games, Zamzee.com also allows children to track their own activity. Kids can create their own avatar on the website and follow that avatar’s progress from level to level as they increase their physical activity. Zamzee encourages more physical activity through a rewards system that awards tech gadgets, gaming consoles, gift cards, and donations to charity.

There’s evidence that Zamzee works. In six-month study co-sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the physical activity of children using Zamzee increased by nearly 60 percent. According to HopeLab, that physical activity had a positive effect on the risk factors associated with diabetes and heart disease.

The potential for Zamzee to become part of a comprehensive approach to health caught the eye of one company. Welltok, which provides a health optimization software platform to health insurance companies and healthcare organizations, acquired Zamzee in order to incorporate it into its CafeWell software. As part of a larger company, Zamzee has the potential to reach and help many more children.

Image credit: Wikimedia

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