By George Velarde, Physical Education Teacher

The thought of implementing video games in my PE program at Sierra Vista Junior High was exactly that:  “a thought”.   But, when we changed our PE philosophy in 2003 to the “New PE” concept, I took a hard and difficult look at how our PE program was going to change for the better.  At the time video games in a PE curriculum was a very new and quite extreme idea for many -including me.    When we analyzed and critiqued our school’s PE curriculum, we found our program was doing an injustice to our kids and to our community.  That is when we began to literally “overhaul” our PE program.

We had to add more movement activities into our PE curriculum.  One of the areas that we looked at was video games for PE. There weren’t many names for this concept at that time, but it has eventually evolved to Exergaming™ (Exercise and Gaming) and ExerLearning™( Judy Shasek Exercise and Learning).  The latest craze at that time was DDR (Dance Dance Revolution).  Seeing how students were moving and interacting with the games gave me a different perspective on how to implement Exergaming into our school program.  The first benefits I observed were eye and feet coordination and rhythmic patterns.  More importantly was how much fun the students were having by engaging in movement.  The amount of fun students have while moving and exercising is and should be very important to all physical education teachers.  Exergaming has increased student motivation and interest in exercising   more effectively than nearly any other activity our school has implemented.  It is definitely a best practice for teachers to use in reaching all students!

Integrating Exergaming into our program has been worth the effort.  Because of our PE fund raisers and our school being a recipient of the Carol M. White PEP Grant, we have added 16 DDR platforms, 8 XaviX stations, 16 Virtual Bikes and a Brain Bike to our ExerLearning™ section of our Fitness Center.  By adding this component of movement to our PE program, it has helped our students in many ways:  raised our fitness scores, less absenteeism in PE, kept students engaged, added technology to our PE program, and, more importantly, showed students a different way to interact with the technology in a positive way.

If you would like to see the “New PE” in action and see our ExerLearning™ section of our Fitness Center.  Please contact me at coachvelarde10@gmail.com or coachvelarde@sbcglobal.net so we can set up a PE demonstration for you and your school.  I would also be happy to answer questions about implementing Exergaming™ into your PEP grant plan or your school curriculum.  Our school is recognized as a National Demonstration Center for Physical Education and Sports by the President’s Council.

To see how exergames can help keep your kids active, head over to Exergame Fitness and checkout the largest supply chain in active gaming products!