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NFL, American Heart Association encourage running with mobile game

The National Football League and American Heart Association have partnered to roll out a mobile game that incentivizes getting active through a connected avatar.

Users run, jump and turn while holding their smartphone, and their avatar in turn does the same in the game. Users then earn coins that they can use to purchase NFL gear.

?We launched NFL Play 60 in 2007, and this is the first Play 60 app that we brought to the market,? said Anna Isaacson, vice president of community relations and philanthropy at the NFL, New York.

?A lot of kids are spending time on mobile devices, but we still think it?s important for them to be active," she said. "We worked for the last year to create the best game that could allow kids to be on mobile devices and be active at the same time.

"It is an endless runner game, but it has the added element that you can?t just move your fingers, you have to move your body. When your character has to jump over a barricade you have to physically jump.?

Run, jump and play
The NFL Play 60 application is available for free download in Apple?s App Store and will be available in Google Play starting Feb. 10. The app can be accessed on a smartphone or tablet.

After downloading the app, consumers run in real life while earning virtual coins. Their avatar copies their real-life movements on the screen, using a gyroscope to detect the user's movement.

Users can buy NFL gear with the virtual coins. They can also unlock funky characters and jump over fun obstacles.

When users find NFL football power-ups they earn double the points, and when they get American Heart Association hearts they become invincible.

The app also provides activity ideas on how to get active with friends. There are additional resources from the NFL and the AHA as well.

NFL Play 60
The mobile game is part of a larger NFL-AHA Play 60 movement that asks consumers to pledge that they will get at least 60 minutes of exercise every day. The goal is to make consumers more active and healthy and reverse the trend of child obesity.

The campaign is also asking consumers to vote for one of two charity projects, Playground Equipment Needed For Healthy, Active Children and Jumping For Our Hearts! Whichever project gets the most votes will receive full funding, and the other will get 50 percent of its funding.

The winner will be chosen on Super Bowl Sunday.

Another contest is accepting entries from schools and communities that are facing challenges in health and wellness. Teachers can submit their entries via the microsite

One school will win fitness equipment, new uniforms, refurbished space or other needed items up to $20,000. The school will also be visited by the NFL Play 60 Bus and NFL players.

Twenty-four other schools will receive $500 of physical fitness equipment. The winners will be decided around Feb. 25.

"Kids should be getting 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity every day, and many kids fall short of that recommendation," said Kim Stitzel, MS, RD, vice president of kid?s market and healthy living strategies at the AHA, Dallas.

"We also hope this app addresses accessibility issues for children who don?t have access to a safe or convenient place to play; in poorer neighborhoods, about 69 percent of homes don?t have a place to play within walking distance," she said. 

"The free NFL PLAY 60 app, launched by the American Heart Association, provides a great opportunity for kids to get physically active anywhere, anytime ? it provides an opportunity for kids to accrue minutes of physical activity even in the middle of their living rooms."

Final Take
Rebecca Borison is editorial assistant on Mobile Marketer, New York