WHO initiative to help get children moving

Friday, 25 November, 2022

WHO initiative to help get children moving

The World Health Organization, the Ministry of Public Health of Qatar and FIFA have launched new digital app designed to help increase physical activity and improve the health and wellbeing of millions of young people.

GenMove, Season1 is a games app that uses advanced movement tracking combined with artificial intelligence technology to provide 8–15 year olds with a vigorous video game experience. The games call for a range of different movements that develop different physical skills and are suitable for children with all levels of fitness.

WHO recommends all children and adolescents get an average of 60 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity per day, including activities that strengthen muscles and bones at least three times a week. More than 80% of adolescents do not meet these recommendations and it is estimated that children and adolescents can spend more than eight hours of their waking day being sedentary and inactive — a behaviour associated with poor fitness, weight gain and reduced sleep. The app is hoped to spur many similar initiatives to get children more active around the world.

“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 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.”

The app was launched by Her Excellency Dr Hanan Mohamed Al Kuwari, Minister of Public Health of Qatar.

“We are 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 so hard on young people — limiting physical education and school sports — so it is vital we invest in promoting physical activity and leverage digital technologies to provide new and fun ways to be active,” she said.

GenMove games are built around popular sports such as football and involve actions such as jumping, reaching and kicking to build kids’ confidence and enjoyment of moving. The games can be played indoors or outdoors and need a mobile phone or tablet (IOS or Android) and a small space to get children active.

Alisson Becker, WHO Goodwill Ambassador for Health Promotion and Brazil’s national goalkeeper, said, “Technology opens the world for everybody, but sometimes it can make you stay seated for too much time. So, the GenMove platform helps you with that. At the same time, you can have fun with your kids, or themselves alone, and be doing something healthy.”

“The cost to the public healthcare systems of physical inactivity is very high,” said Dr Fiona Bull, head of the Physical Activity Unit at WHO.

“Getting children to enjoy being active and build habits into every day is critical to preventing future non-communicable diseases, such as heart disease, obesity, hypertension, diabetes and many cancers.”

GenMove is being teamed up with a complementary football-themed FIFA campaign, 'Bring the Moves', which encourages young people to share their goal-celebration moves online and generate a following of active young people throughout the World Cup.

Image credit: iStock.com/LightFieldStudios

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