In this week's blog, we look at some innovative apps that merge storytelling and fitness to get you off the couch and onto the track.
Personally, one of the most difficult things for me to tackle regularly is the motivation to get out and run.
In the mornings it's too cold. In the afternoons, I don't wanna be all sweaty, and it can be a little hairy to run in the suburbs after dark (although we have something for that.) But if I'm really looking at it, what it all boils down to is a lack of motivation or, as my parents liked to point out when I was a kid, an overabundance of procrastination.
And I don't appear to be alone. According to the American Heart Association, about 70% of the population doesn't work out enough to stay fit, with a whopping 45% admitting they don't exercise at all. It's worse for younger people, as Health Day News recently reported that current research indicates that teenagers are about as active today as people in their 60s.
So how do you motivate more people to get active? The answer may be the trend in apps designed to tell stories or play games through physical activity. Today, we look at five candidates from this new generation of apps and who knows, maybe you'll find one (or more) to try on your next run!
Born from an ambitious Kickstarter campaign in 2012, Zombies, Run! has been one of my favorite narrative run companions. The premise is easy to get into. Essentially, your character is a kind of courier for a civilization that is trying to rebuild following the zombie apocalypse. Players gather supplies, build bases and complete missions by running real-world miles with random zombie encounters that inspire you to pick up the pace by playing the sounds of the undead closing in behind you. With more than 200 really great missions and multiple training modes like 5K training and free-run, Zombies, Run! is a great choice for the runner looking to escape while putting down miles.
Easily one of my favorite running apps, Runtastic has been a great way for runners to stay connected and to track their runs. For runners like me, they've also recently added a new story mode which presents short-form adventures, stories, and music to keep your mind off the cramps and on the miles. Although there are some ads, I've found the free version to be robust enough to do just about everything I need it to: virtual coaching, training pattern analyzer, and goals for the one or two long runs I schedule for myself every year. Connect with your friends and compete, or make some new ones by joining a running club; there's a lot to love about this app. With support for Android Wear 2.0, Garmin Connect, and Apple Watch, this is really a very capable fitness app.
While admittedly more of a game than a fitness activity, The Walk is really worth the fairly reasonable price. For just under $3, users get a 500-mile long adventure told episodically through their phone. Similar to Zombies, Run! this app uses real-world stimuli to weave an engaging story for the user. What sets this app apart from some of the others on the list is that The Walk is meant more to inspire users to get out and hit 10,000 steps by running or walking each day.
"Incentivizes you to get up and move by making you the star of the show." -Joystiq
Created with the NHS and Department of Health, The Walk is so much more than a pedometer, it's also a way to stay fit while turning the ordinary into the extraordinary.
This running game is more strategy than story. So if that's your thing, then this PVP social game might be exactly what you need to get up and go on the weekends! The premise is super simple: runners in the real world can scout, skirmish and secure virtual territory. Running with this app feels a lot like playing Risk while on the go. This is nice, particularly for people like me whose friends are incredibly competitive and whose games can stretch into the hours. My only complaint is the amount of time you end up having to spend looking at your phone while running. While many of the functions can be navigated audibly, a runner would probably really enjoy playing this game with one of our Wrister or Mega i-40 Armpocket armbands.
I'm not sure why, but Verv, the company that makes the Weight Loss for Running app we're about to talk about actually makes five different versions with very similar names. Nomenclature aside, this app is really for runners who just want their fitness trackers to shut up and play the hits. You won't find any stories or friends here, just motivation. This is probably one of the most complete "traditional" fitness apps that I've reviewed for this post. Almost any user with a passing familiarity with this genre of app will have no problems picking this up and getting to work. The app provides several user-defined plans and goals as well as personalized coaching, run-synced music, and weekly meal plans, all of which are thoughtfully arranged so that users should feel like setting up goals or viewing their history is easy and intuitive.
No matter what you use for your next run, never leave your valuables at home again with an Armpocket. With storage for your keys, cash, ID, and phone, you will never have to prioritize what to take with you!
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