Physically, the Kids Aren’t Alright. But There’s an App For That

blog top 09-12

We all should exercise. It reduces risks of obesity, diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and even poor mental health. That fact is preached at us constantly. You know it, I know it, but the kids, with their cellphone in hands and their backside on the couch, aren’t doing it.

In fact, for the first time ever, one-in-five American kids and teens are obese, according to the obesity and health behavior lab at Louisiana State University’s Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge.

But here’s the good news: That tilt toward the chubby side of life can be set aright in quick order.

A new study published in the July 2022 issue of Pediatrics found that adolescents only need about 20 minutes of exercise a day to get healthy. Hey, that’s less time than it takes to stream an episode of Pretty Little Liars (which teens could afford to miss anyway.) It’s even less time than it takes to listen to the latest Plugged In Podcast (which they could listen to while out on a brisk jog.)

Now you may be asking: Wait, don’t I remember that The World Health Organization guidelines recommended that children and adolescents undertake an hour of moderately intense or vigorous exercise per day to improve physical, mental, and cognitive health? (And if you are remembering that … good for you! You exercise, don’t ya?) But this new study says that, nope, just a mere 20 minutes a day of getting red in the face and perspiring freely can do the trick. I mean, how many Insta posts can teens even miss in 20 minutes?

If that all sounds good but you’re thinking there might be need for a bit more encouragement, how about offering them an app or two? Let’s start with kids.

Exercise: At Home Workout App:

This app essentially lets kids ages 4 and up work out with a cartoony monster friend of their choice. A variety of 7-minute routines are available for tykes, but only one—the Lazy Workout—is free. Other workouts require an in-app purchase. There are even a few workouts available for the older monsters in the crowd, such as the Office Workout. And you can create a customized workout by compiling your favorite moves.

Is your teen more get-out-there-and-run focused? How about this one?

PUMATRAC Run, Train, Fitness:

This free app offers up training materials for some 120 free workouts. You can even see how other runners in your area are using playgrounds, streets and hills to exercise. PUMATRAC comes with a learning engine that customizes exercises for you and allows access to your Apple Music and Spotify playlists, allowing you to move to the beat of your own drum.

Nike Training Club: Fitness:

This app guides teens in some 100 designed and targeted workouts for all levels. It also connects to trainer vids that show users how to do exercises without hurting themselves, and it supplies lots of healthful tips as well. And it’s all free.  

Lastly, for those Apple watch users who want to spend a little and get a lot of help, there’s …

Apple Fitness+:

Here we have a service designed exclusively for people who have an Apple Watch and an iOS device (and optional Apple TV). It comes ready to guide you through 10 different kinds of workouts including high intensity training, rowing, cycling and treadmill running. And if you’re using the app indoors with your phone, tablet or TV, your Apple Watch transmits metrics to the display onscreen and helps you meet your fitness goals. But it is a subscription service: Once your free intro offer is through, expect to pay about $10 a month thereafter (or $80 annually).

So, there you have it. Some of the latest stats and apps for the kids and, well, for us big kids, too. Yeah, we can all get our 20-minute workout going. They say there’s no better way to teach than by example.

Bob Hoose

After spending more than two decades touring, directing, writing and producing for Christian theater and radio (most recently for Adventures in Odyssey, which he still contributes to), Bob joined the Plugged In staff to help us focus more heavily on video games. He is also one of our primary movie reviewers.