Sometimes getting kids to be active is difficult, but these apps will help get them moving.

Like it or not, we’re firmly in the age of technology, which means digital devices are a part of our daily lives. Being digital doesn’t have to translate into a sedentary existence; here are some of the best fitness apps to get kids and families moving together.

Digital apps are a part of almost everyone’s daily lives and it can be overwhelming for parents to keep up with the newest apps targeting kids. Our App Advisor makes it easy for parents to stay on top of the apps their children are using and whether or not those apps are safe for kids.

Learn more about the apps your children are using by checking out the App Advisor in our Parent Portal.

Why Fitness Apps are Helpful for Families

Our job as parents is to model the behaviors, we wish for our children to adopt and fitness is no exception. While long work hours and crazy schedules can often derail even the best of intentions, healthy activity is a must for everyone.

Alarmingly, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that almost 18.5 percent of children ages 2-19 are obese. That’s staggering and not altogether surprising, considering how sedentary many of our lifestyles have become. Screen time has understandably been given a bad rap and extended time spent on screened devices is often equated with a sedentary lifestyle, but fitness apps combine the best of both worlds.

If your kids are more interested in screens than being outside, it can be hard to get them moving, but not to worry -- kids will have a lot of fun using these apps that make their screen time more active!

We're excited to be partnering with PHIT America to help encourage kids to be more active and improve academic performance. Check out the video for more information:

1. Pokémon GO

Pokémon GO isn’t a fitness app, but it will definitely get your kids moving. Players must walk around in order play the game. Pokémon are placed using augmented reality in real world locations, so players need to walk around to find them, and in order to hatch a Pokémon egg, players need to walk a certain distance.

  • Ages: 9+
  • Availability: iOS & Android
  • Price: Free

Watch out for: Pokémon GO is a great game to get the entire family out and exploring while sneaking in some exercise. However, situational awareness is the key to being safe while playing Pokémon GO.

Pokémon GO is an interactive game and offers plenty of opportunities for players to engage with one another; parents should be aware of this before letting their children play alone or unsupervised.

Players can add one another as friends and can communicate with each other to compete in challenges, giving gifts, and trading Pokémon. Parents should also know that Pokémon GO offers in-app purchases, so spending expectations should be communicated before allowing your children to play.

2. Sworkit Kids - Fitness Meets Fun

Sworkit Kids turns exercising into a game with customizable workouts that build strength, agility, and flexibility. The app guides users through exercises that combine interval training with randomized exercises to keep kids from getting bored. The app challenges kids with questions like "how long can you hop on one foot?"

  • Ages: 4+
  • Availability: iOS & Android
  • Price: Free

Watch out for: Sworkit Kids should be used with adult supervision to ensure that exercises are completed properly. It’s important that an adult is around to help correct improper form and prevent injury as Sworkit Kids only gives verbal instructions for exercises.

3. NFL Play 60

NFL Play 60 is an augmented reality game in which players take real steps to explore in the game. Players can collect NFL players to build their roster, play catch, train, and prepare with them for competition against other teams. When a player moves, jumps, turns, and dances while holding their phone, their virtual player does the same.

  • Ages: 4+
  • Availability: iOS & Android
  • Price: Free

Watch out for: Parents must sign a release before their child begins playing NFL Play 60, which removes liability from the NFL and American Heart Association, should an injury occur while using the app.

Because NFL Play 60 requires movement to play, parents should review situational awareness with their children before playing and ensure that they have plenty of space to run as kids will be focusing on their device screen to lead them in the game. Parents want to ensure that their children have protective cases on their device, as they’ll be running with their device in-hand, increasing the risk of damage.

4. I Am Love: Kids’ Yoga Journey

This interactive yoga app is made just for kids. Kids are guided through 13 yoga poses that are demonstrated by children. Yoga can be a great way for kids to reduce stress and decompress before bed.

  • Ages: 4+
  • Availability: iOS & Android
  • Price: $3.99 (iOS) & $0.99 (Android)

Watch out for: While I Am Love can be safely used alone, it’s best for adults to go through the app, helping guide their child through each pose; it’s also a great way for parents and children to practice yoga together. Once your child feels comfortable, they’ll be able to go through a session with just the audio prompting poses.

5. Just Dance Now

Just Dance Now players dance to music and choreography using a smartphone as a controller and an internet-connected screen, such as a computer or Smart TV. This app will get your kids dancing to over 300 songs. Coins, the in-app currency, are used to play songs and they regenerate over time. There are also in-app purchases available for users that don't want to wait to play.

  • Ages: 4+
  • Availability: iOS & Android
  • Price: Free

Watch out for: While Just Dance Now is free to play, expect your child to ask to make in-app purchases as much of the popular music is locked behind a paywall. You should also be aware that users receive only 200 coins per day, which translates into two songs; be prepared to be asked for coin purchases so that your child can continue to dance with the app.

6. GoNoodle Kids

GoNoodle Kids is an app used in schools that is designed to get kids moving. Through interactive videos, kids learn how to control energy, focus, and be positive with mindfulness. Players have a character in the game that gets cooler the more you move.

  • Ages: 6+
  • Availability: iOS
  • Price: Free

Watch out for: GoNoodle Kids is an app meant to introduce quick bouts of movement in the classroom, so you should be aware that the modules are short. Don’t expect GoNoodle Kids to engage your child for long.

7. Iron Kids

Iron Kids is a kids' fitness app made by the American Academy of Pediatrics. This app is great for young athletes who want to learn about healthy strength training, balance, and fitness from sports medicine physician Jordan D. Metzl, MD, FAAP. Iron Kids features custom workouts, training tips, goal setting, and reminders.

  • Ages: 4+
  • Availability: iOS
  • Price: $2.99

Watch out for: Developed with safety in mind, there isn’t much parents need to watch out for with the Iron Kids app. Each strength training exercise is demonstrated so that children learn the proper form. If anything, parents may wish to supervise to ensure that their child is performing each exercise correctly.

8. Kids Fitness - Yoga

This free yoga app features 10 poses and an animated character that guides kids through yoga poses. Each pose is illustrated and explained to make following along easier. Kids can reap the benefits of yoga by using this app.

  • Ages: 4+
  • Availability: Android
  • Price: Free

Watch out for: Kid’s Fitness - Yoga can be safely used alone, it’s best for adults to go through the app, helping guide their child through each pose; it’s also an excellent way for parents and children to practice yoga together.

9. Geocaching

Geocaching is a real world treasure hunt; there are geocaches hidden all over the world. Users of this app will need to go out and find the little treasures. This app acts as your toolbox and tells you everything you need to know to get started. Geocaching will require adult supervision.

  • Ages: 10+
  • Availability: iOS & Android
  • Price: Free

Watch out for: Much like Pokémon GO, Geocaching requires children to be aware of their surroundings to ensure safety while playing. Geocaching is best done with an adult, especially if it requires driving to a new location and is a great activity for families to do together.

10. Zombies, Run!

Zombies, Run! is a running game that motivates players to keep going. Players are taken on an audio adventure that makes them the center of a zombie story. The app is great for young athletes that want to train but need a little motivation.

  • Ages: 12+
  • Availability: iOS & Android
  • Price: Free

Watch out for: Because players will be running, Zombies, Run! requires them to be acutely aware of their surroundings. It’s troubling that this fun app is audio-led, as it can be unsafe to run with headphones. It’s important to note that the app features step-counting as a form of tracking, so, while not as thrilling, users can use the app around the house or on a treadmill.

What the Experts Say About Family Fitness and Screen Time for Kids

Unsurprisingly, research indicates that extended screen time for kids is directly linked to the development of sedentary lifestyles and childhood obesity. Increased time spent in front of a screen is connected with disrupted social development and social anxiety in children, as a result of not actively learning and practicing the basic socialization skills. And while studies have associated screen time with sleep disruption, a new study claims that sleep disruption is not significantly affected by time spent on screens. Read on to see what the experts have to say about screen time for kids.

Inactivity & Sedentary Behavior

The American Heart Association released research findings that prove the link between screen use and a sedentary lifestyle; sedentary behavior is directly linked to childhood obesity. Again, the sedentary behavior, as a result of extended screen time for kids has caused childhood obesity rates to spike to almost 20 percent of the population. Now, more than ever, parents need to ensure that their children are developing active and healthy lifestyles, and the best place to start is with family fitness.

Social Isolation

While technology has made our lives much more comfortable, internet-connected digital devices aren’t doing our children any favors in the socialization department. Yes, kids today can connect with people across the globe through the internet, but face-to-face, in-person social interaction is being lost at a time when it’s most important. Psychiatrist Victoria L. Dunckley says, in an article for Psychology Today, that screen time for kids is arresting their social development and causing social anxiety.

Sleep Disruption

It’s interesting to note that screen time has been associated with disrupted sleep in adolescents for several years, but a recent study says that the findings aren’t as bad as they were made to seem. The BBC reports that researchers at Oxford University concluded that “the relationship between sleep and screen use in children was ‘extremely modest.’” As with anything, the research should be taken with a grain of salt, given the sheer number of studies suggesting a correlation between disrupted sleep and screen use.

If your kids are reluctant to get moving, these apps will certainly motivate them to be active. Fitness apps are a great way to combine screen time with physical activity.

The apparent answer to screen time for kids is for parents to help their children balance their digital and physical lives. With Zift, parents are easily able to monitor their child’s online activity, as well as to manage the apps they use and the websites they frequent.

To learn more about the apps your kids use, check out our App Advisor.