With childhood obesity reaching epidemic proportions, toys that get kids moving give the dual gift of joy and fitness. Here's a guide to some of this year's most popular active toys.
Even better: None of these require batteries.
• Pogo Sticks: The retro jumping toy is back in an assortment of styles and variations for different age groups. $20-$130 at Target, Sears, Toys R Us and backtobasicstoys.com.
• Freejumpers and Kickaroos are bouncy, springy devices that strap onto shoes. Sometimes called anti-gravity boots, they're available for ages 6 and older. $65-$180 at www.amazon.com, www.kickaroos.com and www.backtobasicstoys.com. Mega Mood Moon Hopz are another style of bouncy devices that strap onto shoes. In this version, the bouncy feature is inflatable. One size fits up to size 9 men's shoe; recommended for 7 and older. $34.99 at Toys R Us.
• Motion Games: With these high-tech video games, players use body motions to play sports in their family rooms. Hot brands are Nintendo Wii, Sony PlayStation Move and Kinect for Xbox 360 from Microsoft. With Kinect, no hand-held controller is necessary to transfer players' gestures and movements into the virtual play arena. The Xbox 360 4GB Kinect Bundle, which supplies the basic quipment for games, is about $300. Kinect Sports, which includes soccer, table tennis, boxing and three other games, is another $49.99 at Toys R Us, Walmart, GameStop, Kmart, Amazon.com and Sears.
• DVD Workout: Exploracise Gymathics DVD blends math facts with a 30-minute workout featuring such exercises as arm circles, jogging, jumping jacks and sit-ups. The workout is suitable for ages 3 to adult; math facts are geared for ages 6-9. The DVD is included in Dr. Toy's 10 Best Active Products. $20-$25 at www.Amazon.com, www.barnesandnoble.com and www.Exploracise.com.
• Loopz is an electronic music, memory and motion game from Mattel. Following sequences of flashing lights and sounds, players mimic patterns by waving their hands through the half-circle loops. The variety of game options allows for single play or up to four participants. For ages 7 and older; $30 at Toys R Us and Kmart, among others.
• Scoot 'N Zoom A Radio Flyer is a riding toy designed for toddlers, who use their feet to propel and direct the motion, enhanced by wheels decked out for spinning and twirling. $25 at Toys R Us., www.toyrs.com, www.radioflyer.com.
• Twister Hoopla is a fresh version of the classic game that puts players in funky poses. In this game, players use rings to link themselves to other players, according to randomly selected body parts. Ages 6 and older; $20 at Toys R Us, Target, www.hasbrotoyshop.com.
• It! Bounce: This game involves bouncing a foam ball on a hand-held impact-sensitive trampoline. The electronic unit issues instructions related to height and speed of the bounces, and keeps track of the players' feats. For one or more players ages 8 and older; $20 at Toys R Us retailers and www.hasbro.com.