App combines gaming and exercise

 

Chris Swinburne, APAM, looks at an eight-week training program and audio adventure for beginners to improve people’s cardiovascular fitness.

ZOMBIES, RUN!

Developer: Six to Start and Naomi Alderman

Get it: App Store and Google Play

Price: Free

Zombies, Run! is part running tracker, part game, and part audiobook. It uses augmented reality and gamification to make exercising more fun and motivating.

Users become ‘Runner 5’ by donning headphones and listening to a post-apocalyptic story unfold as they walk, jog, or run. Between snippets of the story, users hear their own music or podcasts and accrue virtual resources. The resources can be used between runs in a mini-game to rebuild the users’ town. This feature doesn’t affect running or the story, but does provide an additional goal to motivate runners.

The running itself has most of the usual features found in other running apps, for example, GPS tracking and the ability to compete with friends, with the additional novelty of intermittent zombie chases. When these chases occur, users must increase their pace to outrun the zombies for a short time or face losing some of their resources.

There are hundreds of episodes to keep runners coming back for more. The first few are unlocked by default, with subsequent ones unlocked weekly for free. Alternatively, a paid subscription will unlock all episodes and enable a few extra features. There are also occasional virtual races, which can be entered for a fee and includes special stories, a real-life race kit delivered to users’ home and chances to win real prizes.

The app is a fun option for both avid runners and those who struggle to maintain regular physical activity.

Pros:

  • provides entertaining goals and motivation to encourage regular walking or running
  • can be used outdoors, on a treadmill, or even while doing other endurance sports
  • most features can be unlocked for free over time

Cons:

  • running analysis is not as in-depth as some other running apps (though other apps can be used simultaneously during a run).
  • Couch to 5k program for first-time runners requires separate app purchase.
  • not currently compatible with Fitbit fitness trackers.
 

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