Normally, I wouldn't mind anything that cuts back on organized exercise... but in some cockamamie schools, they're using P.E. class to play Nintendo Wii – that videogame system where you play by moving around a little.
The last thing today's kids need is more time in front of a glowing screen, and the last people who should be giving it to them are teachers, especially gym teachers.
Don't be fooled by the name – "Wii Fit" doesn't lead to any kind of fitness. Just a few weeks ago, I told you about research that found these video "exercises" barely provide the kind of workout you'd get from a simple walk, and many of them don't even give you that. (Click here to read, "Weight loss through a videogame? No way.")
One of those studies was even sponsored by Nintendo – and it still came up empty.
Ironically, this comes when a convoluted new report tries to link kids' activity levels to obesity.
Researchers in that study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, first tried to link obesity to the amount of time kids spent on their butts. When that came up empty, they "discovered" that kids who got vigorous activity had ever-so-slightly smaller waistlines than those who got moderate activity.
Talk about missing the point. Did they even bother to look at what these kids were eating? I'll bet I can guess just by looking at the kid: The porkers are eating cheese doodles and Big Macs, and the slender ones are eating steak and onions.
There may be some exceptions, since kids can have faster metabolisms... but in general, it's what a child eats – not how much he or she moves – that matters most, and will matter even more down the road.
While kids need to get out in the sun and play, vigorous exercise is the last thing in the world any of them should be forced into. Exercise is bad at any age, and the more vigorous it is, the greater the risk of injury and even death – even in kids. Young athletes have been known to drop dead, mid-sport, as I mentioned not long ago. (Click here to read, "Why young athletes die needlessly.")
But kids do need to get out and burn off some energy – and that's what phys ed SHOULD be about: an hour in the sun to play tag, kickball or just run around and be kids (minus those handheld videogame things).
If educators want to use that time to teach pointless, joyless exercise or – worse yet – how to interact with a TV, then it's time to revise the curriculum and trash the class altogether.
Maybe they can replace it with a real health class – but I doubt that will ever happen, either – not when our school districts are being funded by soda machines.