Zamzee: Gamifying Health and Wellness for Kids

Exercising is one of those things that I am not naturally motivated to do. I’ve been blessed with a relatively fast metabolism, so outwardly you’d never guess I had a strong aversion to the gym.  As the years go by, though, I know the need to exercise the muscles inside my body, specifically my heart, is of the utmost importance. Which is why I am always on the lookout for ways to make exercising more fun. And I think I have finally found one that touches on everything I need: competition, incentives, levels, and rewards. It’s called Zamzee.

Zamzee is a small meter (you can slip it in your pocket or clip it to your shirt) and motivational website which tracks and measures the duration and intensity of your activity. After creating a Zamzee account, the device connects to your computer with a USB to upload your progress. And voila, an activity graph compares your activity for the day to the activity of previous days while also showing the number of “Pointz” that have been earned. Kids can see how many Pointz they get for walking the dog or I can see how many I earn for walking seven blocks to the grocery store.

These Pointz aren’t just used for personal gratification, either. You can compete against friends or family members, earn badges, advance levels, and take challenges. The challenges- one example is the “Escape from Alcatraz”- are story-based adventures that allow you to earn “Zamz” if you successfully complete them. These “Zamz” are the currency of the Zamezee world. So if you are in this for the rewards, then the challenges are where you want to be. Rewards include “tech gadgets, fun collectibles, gift cards, and even charitable donations.”

I, for one, was sold at challenges and rewards, but I know there are probably still some skeptics. HopeLab, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving health in young people, conducted a study to determine if Zamzee actually worked.  The results: “Zamzee increased physical activity in kids by 59% on average over the six-month study period and had positive impact on risk factors associated with heart disease and diabetes.”

I know I’m not the target audience, but I love challenges and levels and being able to track progress. If I can get fit and improve my internal health in the process, why wouldn’t I try it out?

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