Body 2.0: Kicking Off the Week with Inspiration, Innovation, and Healthy Treats

I wasn’t sure what to expect from an event that promised group yoga and the founder of the ‘physician internet’ under one roof, but Sunday’s Body 2.0 left me convinced that all conferences should start on such a healthy, positive note. Like most attendees, I spent the day wandering between the main stage, copious tasty food, and a start-up packed floor.

The always inspiring Jane Sarasohn-Kahn of Health Populi told her story of the world’s greatest anniversary present; she and her spouse shared the gift of health, losing weight and dramatically improving her cardiovascular risk profile in the process. Take that, Tiffany and Company! Interludes of approachable yoga led by Tal Rachleff convinced us all that it’s possible to stretch and de-stress even when sporting business casual, while Plum Kids organic smoothie packets perked me up after the effort. Where were these on my medical school surgery rotation, pockets stuffed with dusty granola bars?

There were many impressive companies showcased at Body 2.0, but one in particular was both new to me and stood out for leveraging an existing behavior, mobile gaming, to make life a little bit more fun and healthy.

Explorence brings mobile games outside using the iPhone, like a liberated Wii. The game I played, Bulldash, takes you through the streets of Pamplona for the infamous running of the bulls. Being mauled by a mad beast, even a digital one, is pretty good incentive to keep moving. Explorence games use mobile sensors (the camera, GPS, compass, accelerometer, and gyroscope) and location databases such as Google Places and FourSquare to connect your physical world and actions with that of the game. TorchDash, their newest game, enables competing remotely against Facebook friends.

While the games keep score, Explorence has chosen not to track some of the more traditional exercise parameters you will find in running apps for serious athletes. Per CEO Mike Suprovici, “We don’t want people to think about exercising when playing our games, we just want them to have fun with exercise as a positive side effect”.

All of us hipsters may be resurrecting dodgeball to relive our school yard glory days, but I foresee a big opportunity for schools and public health officials to stop fighting the ubiquity of smart phones, and instead leverage our youth’s love of mobile gaming to combat childhood obesity.

Inspired by all of these healthy people and enabling technologies, my Fitbit and I went directly from Body 2.0 to a sunny afternoon hike. Perhaps that is the best metric of all for a successful health event?

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