Friday, February 29

Exergaming Fails in School

Expert Sets Guidelines for Improvement

The exergaming world was rocked by criticism following the use of exergaming as a replacement for traditional physical education. The story that originated in the UK has since circulated the globe with criticism from as far away as Australia for not being real exercise and for giving up on sport.

The articles highlighted research stating the console used was only 2 percent more extra effort over sedentary gaming. The odd part is this; the discouraging research came from the same university that praised the equipment via BBC news one year earlier.

If you are not confused by this U turn, you should be. I am used to seeing one research study contradict another, but never from the same source! Both studies did make national BBC news though, not that I am suggesting anything with that statement.

So step in Dean Horridge, from Fit for Sport and most recognised for his work with the TV show "Ian Wright's Unfit Kids" (pictured). In his most recent article he sets out a number of guidelines for schools to follow in order not to fall foul of the hype. I met Dean last year at a trade show, and he's worth listening to. Here is a summary of his tips for setting up a program and product selection to schools;

1. Discuss with kids what they want.
2. Involve the children in your testing.
3. Check suppliers research into activity.
4. Spend wisely, and do not buy without trying.
5. Get trained to use new equipment.
6. Change the sessions often to keep interest.
7. Plan for the long term suitability.
8. Keep safety in mind but maintain enthusiasm.
9. Make sure all kids can participate regardless of ability.
10. Watch out for equipment storage needs.

I have not specifically mentioned any products in the post, because the experience of a failed exergaming program could be applicable to any equipment, no matter how good or bad the machines are.

Obviously choosing equipment where the cardio fitness benefits and sustainability are beyond doubt is the best start - but then again, I would say that!!

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