Sport for Health, a collaboration between The World Health Organization (WHO), FIFA and Qatar’s Ministry of Public Health, has released an app called Gen Move Season 1 to coincide with the World Cup in Qatar, with the aim of increasing physical activity among millions of children worldwide.
Game developer G13R, which created mobile skills measurement app myKicks during the 2018 World Cup, is behind the product’s development. The company is already trialling the release of Gen Move Season 2.
Gen Move gamifies physical activity to help motivate movement in young people aged 8-to-15-years-of-age by combining AI with movement tracking to deliver vigorous video games that require a physical response. There are more than 50 games available on the app, each with six skill levels.
The WHO recommends that children and teenagers should get around 60 minutes of moderate physical activity a day, as well as activities that strengthen muscles and bones at least three times a week, but says that more than 80 per cent of children and adolescents don't meet these guidelines. They can also spend more than eight hours a day being sedentary, leading to poor fitness, weight gain and reduced sleep.
“Regular physical activity has major, lifelong benefits for physical and mental health, and is essential for the healthy development of children,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO’s director general. “This kind of digital innovation can be a powerful tool to reach young people and get them moving, especially children who might not play sports regularly.”
During the setup, users place their phone or tablet on the floor, so the app can register their form. They then choose an avatar, such as a tiger or mouse to represent them. Gen Move gameplay inspires physical movement, with categories including Jump, Upper Body, Chomp, Space Blast, Zone Runner and Danger Zone. By playing, users can earn currency which can be used to customise their avatar by purchasing clothing and accessories.
Gen Move games are built around popular sports such as football and involve actions such as jumping, reaching and kicking to build children's confidence and enjoyment of movement. Games can be played inside or outside and in small spaces.
The app is being launched to coincide with the World Cup to inspire as many children as possible to participate in physical activity. “Qatar is proud to launch this important innovation for children,” said Dr Hanan Mohamed Al Kuwari, minister of public health of Qatar. “We're committed to doing as much as possible to increase physical activity and build the health of young people here in Qatar and around the world.
"The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted young people hard, limiting physical education and school sports," she said. "It's vital we invest in promoting physical activity and leverage digital technologies to provide new and fun ways to be active.”
The app also features the slogan #Bring the Moves, which is a football-themed FIFA campaign encouraging young people to celebrate their goals throughout the World Cup.
The launch took place at 'Walk the Talk: The Health for All Challenge', which was held for the first time in Qatar.
A recent report from the WHO, Global Status Report on Physical Activity 2022, revealed that physical inactivity between 2020 and 2030 will result in almost 500m people developing a preventable, non-communicable disease (NCD), at a cost of US$300bn.
“The cost to the public health care systems of physical inactivity is very high,” says Dr Fiona Bull, head of the Physical Activity Unit at WHO. “Therefore, getting children to enjoy being active and build habits into every day is critical to preventing future noncommunicable diseases, such as heart disease, obesity, hypertension, diabetes and many cancers.”