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Sonoma Family Life Magazine

Happy Healthy Techie

Dec 30, 2018 12:00AM

By Tanni Haas

Do you want fun and educational ways to teach your kids to stay healthy? Encourage them to download an app—or three. Here are seven of the very best apps available, and they’re all free.

DreamyKid (Available at: Apple App Store, Google Play; ages 9–18) Healthy living is about taking good care of the mind and the body. DreamyKid teaches kids how to relax their minds with guided meditations, visualizations, and affirmations through calming, positive messages. There are some issue-specific meditations that some kids might find particularly useful, including meditations aimed at building confidence and focusing on their schoolwork. The app itself is free but many of the meditations must be purchased ($3.99 each).

Eat & Move-O-Matic (Available: Apple App Store; ages 9–18) If you want your kids to understand the consequences of their food choices, Eat & Move-O-Matic is the right app for them. Created by the Learning Games Lab at New Mexico State University, the app teaches kids to be aware of what they eat or drink. It lets them compare the calories in their food choices with the amount of time required engaging in physical activities—biking, running, or walking—to burn off those calories.

Monster Heart Medic (Available at: Apple App Store, Google Play; ages 9–12) Monster Heart Medic teaches kids about a topic few other apps cover, namely the cardiovascular system and how to stay heart-healthy. Created by the University of California, Berkeley, the app features a friendly monster named Ragnar who suffers from cardiovascular problems and needs help. Kids run various diagnostic tests to figure out what’s causing Ragnar’s problems.

Nature Melody (Available at: Apple App Store; ages 5–18) If there’s one thing kids need in order to lead healthy lives it’s a good night’s sleep, and the app Nature Melody can help them get it. It functions like an alarm clock and has more than 30 soothing, nature-inspired sounds to slowly and gently wake your kids up in the morning. The app can be used in the afternoon and evening, too, using the nap and a sleep timer function.

NFL Play 60 (Available at: Apple App Store, Google Play; ages 5–18) If your kids love sports, especially football, but it’s hard to get them to do any actual exercise, NFL Play 60 is just the right app for them. Created by the NFL, in collaboration with the American Heart Association, the app lets kids pretend that they’re professional football players. The catch is that kids have to get off the couch and actually run, jump, catch, and turn to make their avatars move. Kids can even count the steps they’ve taken while playing the game.

Space Chef (Available: Apple App Store; ages 5–12) If you want your kids to learn to eat well, encourage them to download Space Chef. Created by the University of California, Berkeley, maker of the Monster Heart Medic app, Space Chef teaches kids important facts about healthy foods. And it goes one important step further: It has more than 60 easy-to-make and kid-friendly recipes that encourage healthy eating.

Super Stretch Yoga (Available at: Apple App Store; ages 9–18) Besides meditation, yoga is a great way for kids to relax their minds and bodies. Super Stretch Yoga, created by well-known yoga instructor Jessica Rosenberg, teaches kids yoga through video demonstrations by other kids, with a focus on breathing and movement. It’s narrated by a character named Super Stretch and features 12 different poses with different skill levels. Kids can use the built-in camera to take pictures of themselves doing the various poses.

Tanni Haas, Ph.D., is a professor in the Department of Communication Arts, Sciences, and Disorders at the City University of New York–Brooklyn College.