U.K. Government Backing Wii for Gym Class

January 29, 2008 -
With childhood obesity a major concern, The Independent reports that officials in the U.K. plan to supplement physical education programs with Nintendo's Wii console.

The Wii, of course, requires a greater level of physical activity from users than competing systems. From the newspaper report:
The latest attempt to tackle the problem stems from an acclaimed initiative in which Nintendo Wii consoles were used to tempt inactive pupils into "virtual PE"...  The project, at five schools in Worcestershire, found that children queued up at lunchtimes for their chance on the Wii... Heart monitoring revealed that the pupils became fitter with regular use of the consoles.

The scheme follows a report in The British Medical Journal which found that active console games "significantly increased participants' energy expenditure", compared with other systems...

Now, days after announcing its latest strategy to tackle obesity, the Government has accepted that active computer games can play a key part in introducing children to exercise.

Not everyone agrees, however. The BBC reports that Nick Seaton, chairman of the Campaign for Real Education, is opposed to using the Wii in school:
Pupils would be far better doing serious competitive sports and games than this sort of thing.

Thanks to: GP European correspondent Mark "Beemoh" Kelly...


Small problem: "the children queued up" for their turns? Wouldn't it be better if they were doing some other activity while they waited? When I was in middle school, we had a ping-pong table, and the teacher made a list of names to call from so those of us waiting our turn could do free-form exercise (ie. throwing footballs at each other) in the meantime. Don't get me wrong, getting kids excited about gym is a pretty good accomplishment, but the Wii shouldn't be an excuse to stand about twiddling one's thumbs.

When I was growing up we had "PE" but it really was just another hour that the sports teams could practice. Those of us who did not participate in the sports programs had to run laps for most of the time. During football season we ran around the track. Then we were free to play football or football related games.

In basket ball season we ran laps around the gym and when we were done, we sat in the bleachers while everyone else practiced basketball.

In baseball season, we ran laps around the baseball field and when were were done, we sat in the bleachers while everyone else practiced baseball.

Notice a trend?

The only time that everyone had to run laps, was when it was track season.

That is why I hated PE/Gym class. They did not care about you if you were not playing sports.

But back to the Wii topic, I think it is a dumb idea. There has been some research by students in Canada that shows that playing the Wii is not as good as other excercise.

If they really want to get kids interested in PE again, they need to change the way it is run. They don't let kids play tag anymore because kids could feel "picked on". You can't play dodgeball, becasue of possible injuries and lawsuits. You can't do anything, with out someone feeling injured either physically or emotionally and suing.

Just let the kids freaking play like kids.

@ EZK,

Same here,

I sucked at PE.

I kicked ass at swimming, though, and still do.

Why? Well, swimming was something I did regularly because my parents got me to it. That's about it.

Gimmick raising. LOL

Sad to say the gimmick is what has saved it..not so much the flash games the gimmick is used on....as for real games I can see a hand full of them but.....gaaaaaaa....where is the games? 0-o

Oh! ok lol when it said backing wii for gym i thought they ment replacing actual gym with wii game sessions lol thought it sounded stupid

I know some schools in the US are using dance dance revolution, but I really don't see the wii being an effective workout to justify using it in a gym class.

Have to disagree with Nick Seaton here. As a UK kid, in school I was VERY against sport (still am). Didn't enjoy it, wasn't motivated. Some kid's just arent. They're far more likely to engage in this sort of activity, where they can exercise without the humiliation of being the worst player, or suffer the bullying of sports teachers (who honestly just don't get that some kids don't like sport. Better things in the world you know).

Then again, “significantly increased participants’ energy expenditure"? Considering the competing consoles use up very little energy as it is, it isn't really that much of an increase. Still, starts the ball rolling.

I agree with Chard. It was school PE which killed my interest in sport, although more to do with the fact that we spent too long on football (which I can't stand) than any lack of motivation.

Still- there's more to exercise than sport, as the legs of anybody who walks to school/work every day will tell you.

The only downside I see to this initiative, though, is that it may illegitemize non-physical games even more than they already are. Remember Wii was meant to be a new way to play games- not a combi games and workout machine.


Yep - same here. If anything killed my interest in PE and Sports - it was school and all the arrogant jocks.

But the Wii in Gym is just plain stupid.


"Pupils would be far better doing serious competitive sports and games than this sort of thing.

this sort of thing.... ? what... exercising? wow you make perfect sense. nice one on showing your ignorance to new technology and trends.

What i like about this is that it isnt always the jocks beating up on the nerds anymore (something that always made me HATE Phys ed) , infact it may be the other way round! good idea!


Agreed, the Wii doesn't require as much energy as regular exercise does.

I, like many of you, also suffered this lack of interest in sport through the activity that we had to do in PE, the attitude of some of the sports teachers, and the praise that was bestowed upon those with great sporting ability who were the main focus of our PE/Games sessions. I however may have had slightly different Pysical Education than the rest, seeing as I attented a private school for most of my school years. This gave me a great resentment towards sport as it was more highly praised than academia or talents in music (or drama), at which I was better yet not recognized for. Having to play Hockey since primary school to 4th year was horrific and discouraging.

Now, as much as I love the Wii, I think you cannot rely on it to movitvate or encourage school kids. If kids want to play Wii Fit at home, leave them to it, I think that's a great idea and I think it will be very successful. But not in a school environment. Instead, I think there should be a greater range of activities that can be carried out instead of one general direction of sport. In the school I mentioned before, I held great resentment towards PE up untill 5th year when there were a number of different activities to take (I myself took dance which was great fun, it was really dance aerobics and we were all equally as crap and comfortable with it). Had this only been avaliable to me since 1st year, rather than compulsory hockey (or rugby depending on your gender), I'm positive I'd have more enthusiasm for sport or physical activity at all. We need variety, not a novelty distraction such as the Wii.

I think the main reason kids aren't interested in sports is because it's a competitive environment. If you're overweight and athletic, you're going to suck at sports, and you don't want to do them, I hated sports when i was little but find noncompetitive exercise, running/biking/weight lifting to be a GREAT way to get in shape and I'm getting healthier the older I get. I like the wii, don't own one but play it frequently at friends and I don't really see the health benefits you don't have to do that much work to play it. Competition is what stops the unhealthy kids from wanting to do PE. (PE was always death at my school hated it more than french, and I really really hated french)

nonathletic* lol, obviously if you're athletic you're likely good at sports

"Pupils would be far better doing serious competitive sports and games than this sort of thing." -- Nick Seaton


Really, the big thing about P.E. class I hated was the competition. P.E. is sports, which means your team depends on you--if you suck, you're letting down everyone who have or will come to resent you over the course of the half semester. Seems like a bad setup, because I did everything I could to avoid participating!

I would have loved jumping on a treadmill or exercise bike and going for 20-30 minutes, but I doubt the school had money for things like that.

as far as wii not being that energetic it really depends on the game. some you can sit down n move your hand about a cm,

but i challenge ANYONE to play boxing on wii sports at the higher levels and not be completely knackered after 15 minutes. its crazy!

The Wii is not the way to being healthier.

I admit its a great system, but don't under estimate the power of a brisk run.

I had a semester-long "Individual Sports" PE class that I signed up for back in High School. The description in the booklet they handed out with all the next-year class descriptions siad we'd do stuff like Golf, Cycling, track, etc, and that sounded like something more my style (aside from the fact that I had never properly learned how to ride a bike; still haven't, but I digress), and going in I was confident I'd never have to mess around with football, basketball, or hockey, all of which I despised, and should have belonged in the domain the "Team Sports" class, anyway.

We spent what seemed like half the semester playing basketball. I protested to the coach, saying plain and simple that basketball is a team sport and not an individual sport. His reply was that though we played on teams, we still had to play as individuals, and were being graded as individuals. Ugh. I think we might've played Tennis at some point, but Basketball is what I remember.

I get my own exercise nowadays, primarily by walking a lot. I walk 15-20 minutes to class, and 15-20 minutes back at the end of the day. When I go shopping, I park in the back of the parking lot (Nice side effect: The back of the lot is usually mostly empty, so finding my car is easy). When I'm bored or have a lot on my mind, I go for a walk around the neighborhood.

Personally, since the Wiifit program is pretty close to release, this is a good idea in my book.

My personal problem with this, is that the popular kids will do their best to monopolize it and keep those they deem inferior off it, thus negating the purpose.

And like many, I loathed and despised PE through all my school career.Running laps, and we HAD to run even if winded.And whenever I got the opportunity, I lifted weights. I enjoyed it and was encouraged with my progress by the coach. Problem was, I had more often had to do crap I wasn't even remotely good at. I hated football, hated basketball, didn't care for hockey or baseball but preferred those.

PW is still too rigid and need to be made flexible.

I really do feel sorry for kids and teens. They say that if your overweight your gonna DIE but your not im sorry ive been overweight my whole life and i loved sports baseball was my life for a lot of years. I never had my feelings hurt because i was fat because i knew that fat guys could do great things. Babe Ruth for instance he was my hero growing up so was the Fridge both big guy heros. So in the end dont despair my fellow fat guys we can do great things.

What the bother is this nonsense? 'Tempting' kids into physical education? Point guns at them and be done with it. I hated PE back in school. I still have absolutely no interest sport. I was, like everyone else, forced to run around and throw javelins and jump on the trampoline (which was rather fun tbh), and I'm a better human nor for it. Maybe. I never do any exercise now. I'm as skinny as a rake. I have no idea where I'm going with this.

@ BreadCultist

You threw Javelins while jumping on a trampoline?????


Ok, this falls under "misue" for me. Whatever happened to REAL sports in Gym class?

Well thats just plain awesome, I just wish I weren't leaving high school this year, if I had this in my PE class it would suck 10 times less. How many times do I have to learn the rules of foot ball anyway? Don't even like the sport...

As I've said on other sites, I don't think the Wii is a fitness machine. But it could inspire kids to try out the real sports; sort of like how Power Rangers gets kids interested in Martial Arts.

The point of PE is not to have fun, it's for fat kids to lose weight.


Sorry, but 45 minutes a day (at least where I go) only half the year doesn't quite cut it. Your not goning lose weight in that period, and then comes summer where if they are not into it they probably won't try too much then either. What PE is used for is to teach kids to exercise in the hope it gets them interested, so, to have it be fun would be the best way to get someone interested. Alas, if it doesn't get them interested in the real thing, at least you can partially get it in the Wii. Is it the best? No. Is it better then nothing? Yes.

Damn it, why couldn't they have started this when I was in school? All those hours spent in the nurses office due to dodgeball wounds could have been avoided.

I see quite a few problems with using the Wii for exercise.
1) I'm not sure if this is the case for schools in the UK, but my school can't possibly afford a reasonable amount of Wiis and TVs for the kids in PE. That money would most likely be going to necessities like textbooks or lab equipment or stuff like that.
2)The Wii only exercises the arms (unless you're REALLY into it.)
3)I can still do okay at the Wii sports games without using too much energy, so the lazy kids still won't be getting that much exercise.

@Tyler Baumbarger

They've basically banned dodgeball and any sport more exciting than ping pong in gym, because it's too "dangerous" in my school...psh, i loved that stuff

"Pupils would be far better doing serious competitive sports and games than this sort of thing."-Nick Seaton

^Great and get abused by your peers if you fail to prevent the other team from scoring?

I HATE PE, I'm always given the crappy positions, and I always get abused for one reason or another by the jocks and their girlfriends. I reckon putting Wii's and even DDR machines would get me interested in PE again, but my school's to stingy and they concentrate too much on the competitive sports against other schools so they can win stuff and brag about it to everyone that doesn't care.


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