Gaming and sedentary often fall in the same sentence. Until you mention Pokemon Go. The app has gotten more than 20 million daily users up and moving in hopes of catching the elusive digital monsters that appear on their smartphones.
Some experts think the fact that the app isn’t designed specifically for fitness (but rather, for fun) is why it’s working so well to get gamers on their feet. David A. Dzewaltowski, a professor in the department of kinesiology at Kansas State University, believes the distraction of the game is what might make it so successful.
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“If we start to think of ways technology can foster activity, even when the goal may not be the activity itself, we’re going to have people of all ages involved,” he says. “That’s very different than the stressful thought, ‘I’ve got to watch and count my steps.’ It’s essentially providing a way to get active, without that being the main goal.”
Want to find a way to rack up your step count, without even thinking about it? These five alternative apps to Pokemon Go will get both the avid user and the new gamer going.
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6 Fun, Fit Apps (Better Than Pokemon Go)
1. Zombies, Run!
If you’re a fan of The Walking Dead, this app is for you! It turns any cardio session into a scene from your favorite horror flick or show. As you move around, you’ll listen to a mission to save the world from zombies and the closer they get to you, the quicker you need to run. (Hello, interval training!) The story lines are so good, you won’t even realize you’re putting in way more work than a casual stroll or jog. (Free or $3/month for all-access; iOS, Android)
Consider this a real-life treasure hunt that takes you around the world. Unlike other apps that involve virtual reality, this one involves people hiding actual containers for you to find all over the globe. When you find a box — whether in your backyard or many miles away — trade the geocaching game pieces inside, then sign and date the logbook and move on to the next one. Reaching that 10,000-a-day step count just got a lot easier (and way more exciting!). (Free or $6/month for premium; iOS and Android)
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3. Goose Chase
When was the last time you did a scavenger hunt with your friends or family? Well, now you can have even more fun with it. Choose from pre-set tasks, like showing off your parkour skills on everyday terrain or racing a stranger on foot. Then post your craziest photos to the entertaining feed. You can also take over the designer’s seat and create your own hunt. Reward your participating crew with something special at the end. We suggest a post-20-burpee cashout to really raise the stakes — and the sweat. (Free to play; iOS, Android)
4. The Walk
From the same creators as Zombies, Run!, this app is best for beginners who aren’t quite ready to increase their speed. It also includes a spoken narrative that guides you on different missions, with every step helping you save the world. The game features 65 episodes containing intricate, fully-illustrated maps, 800 minutes of audio and hundreds of collectible items to explore the world. In other words, you’ll never get bored. ($3; iOS, Android)
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5. Ninja Fitness
Learn from Grandmaster Old Beard what it takes to become a fit ninja. Pick your 3D character and follow along through bodyweight exercises to earn outfits, armor, weapons and some more pumped-up workouts. (Trainers show you how to do each move.) You can also earn new ninja belts by upping your skills in strength, agility, endurance and Zen. ($1; iOS)
Similar to Pokemon Go, prepare to move around outdoors as you zap the ghouls invading your space. The app uses GPS and your camera to superimpose the creepy characters in your area. Pick the length of the session you want to participate in (anywhere from 15 minutes to 8 hours), look for the ghosts and other surprise creatures, and knock ‘em down. Just keep in mind it’s best to play in an open field so you have more room to roam. ($2.50; Android)
Pro Tip: You can use any game on your phone as an excuse to squeeze in some fitness. When you lose a round of Candy Crush or your friend schools you on Words with Friends, do 10 burpees or 20 lunges. Day, won.