UK Gov't welcomes virtual PE

After a trial scheme 'significantly increased' kids' energy expenditure, the Wii may become a permanent part of school-based exercise in the future.

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Anyone who's played a sustained bout of Wii boxing will know that it can feel like a real workout. With Wii Fit, which features balancing and cardiovascular exercises, coming out in the US and Europe soon, the average gamer has the opportunity to do a lot more than knock back sugary soft drinks whilst reclining on the couch.

In the UK, the Wii might even become a standard part of physical education after five schools in Worcestershire ran a scheme at lunchtimes where kids could play Wii Sports. The organisers found that the kids queued up for the chance, after years of dodging games lessons, reports The Independent on Sunday.. The children were fitted with heart rate monitors, which found that the youngsters became fitter after regularly using the consoles. The scheme won an award for its contribution to increasing participation in physical activity.

Childhood obesity is becoming an increasing problem in the UK, with rates trebling over the last 20 years--now 10 percent of 6-year-olds and 17 percent of 15-year-olds are considered to be obese.

A Department of Health spokesperson told the paper that it accepts that initiatives like these can get children interested in getting fit. They said, "We welcome the positive impact that innovations like these can have as a first step towards getting people to participate in a range of physical activities and to enjoy the many benefits of an active lifestyle."

However, not everyone applauds the scheme. Nick Seaton, chairman of the Campaign for Real Education, blasted the idea. He told Channel 4, "Pupils would be far better doing serious competitive sports and games than this sort of thing. It looks like another gimmick. It's pandering to the views of the physically idle."

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