Just in time for Super Bowl Sunday, the National Football League and American Heart Association are teaming up by releasing a new smartphone app that encourages young people to get 60 minutes of physical activity each day.
The NFL PLAY 60 app puts players into an adventure that requires them to run, jump, pivot and turn in place, earning coins to buy NFL team gear along the way.
Here’s how it works: Players pick an individualized avatar who encounters obstacles in a virtual world. In order to move their avatar though the adventure, players must physically move their bodies. That movement is recorded by their smartphones, with players earning points for duration of play and for successfully getting through the virtual obstacles.
As players make their way through the game, they collect digital coins that can be redeemed for NFL team-themed outfits that their avatar can wear. Players also can unlock new characters and learn ways to get moving with their friends IRL (that’s “in real life” for all you non-gamers).
The NFL and American Heart Association have partnered for nine years on efforts to increase physical activity among America’s young people, including through the NFL PLAY 60 Challenge, a six-week program that aims to get middle schoolers moving inside and outside of the classroom. All 32 NFL teams support the PLAY 60 program, which has now reached two million students.
“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.”
The free app is available to download on the iTunes store, and is slated to available for Android smartphones on Feb. 14. It’s already getting positive reviews from iTunes users, who praised the game for helping them get active “without even realizing it.”
“[I]t’s great especially now during this polar vortex that I can be warm inside while being active… I also love the characters and picking their outfits,” wrote user Albert Ferdinand, who gave the app five stars.
Added iTunes user Moodyfood: “I’ve never seen an endless runner like this before — you can move by ACTUALLY moving! Jump to jump! Turn to turn!... It puts the mobile back in mobile app.”