Tuesday, April 27, 2010
Track Physical Activity with the iPhone
There is an interesting free app for the iPhone entitled Walk n' Play. Developed by Chinmay Manohar in the Department Endocrinology, Nutrition and Diabetes of the Mayo Clinic, Walk n' Play tracks normal day to day physical activity. Once you put in the height and weight of the user, it tracks your movements and tells you if you are winning or losing against the computer or a buddy via your own social networking. This app is different from a pedometer or other devices for it measures small movement changes as well (as little as half mile per hour).
After testing this app today with a few kids (ages 4 through 10 years of age), I give it a thumbs up. The cartoon images of the people moving or sleeping was highly motivating to the children. If they realized the cartoon was sleeping, they immediately got back to moving around - walking, running, stair climbing and marching in place. It worked best as a motivator to set it to the hand held motion detector that way the kids could see how they were doing. They loved competing against the computer cartoon constantly working towards being ahead of "his" calorie burner count. I am sure the novelty factor would wear off after awhile, but today this was a big hit in increasing physical activity in the children.
Any child or adult would benefit from this app to track their progress in increasing physical activity throughout the day. Perhaps track a student's progress who is trying to increase physical activity throughout the day for weight control. Maybe give to a student to see if a weighted vest or pressure garment is improving the student's ability to stay in one place to focus. And, you can't beat free to give it a try!