University Offering Wii Performance Course

By Staff
September 9, 2009

The University of Houston is offering a physical education class in which students use a Nintendo Wii game system.

NBC Miami reports that the course, which is called the Wii Performance class--PEB 4197--will use the games Wii Fit, Wii Sports, Wii Sports Resort and Wii Dance Dance Revolution.

"Our department conducts a host of research into the epidemic of obesity, not only its root causes, but ways to combat it and diseases related to it," explained Jessica Wheeler, who is the program coordinator. "Using the Wii games can be both fun and an effective tool. We anticipate that many students will want to take this class."

Ben Hoffman, who is the instructor for the course, told the Houston Chronicle that he requires students to log between 20 and 30 minutes of activity per class, which is reported by the game system. The expectation is based on an American College of Sports Medicine recommendation that people exercise at least 20 minutes every day.

"We thought this was a good way to reach those students who might not take a weight-training class or a soccer class, but would play an active game like a Wii Fit or Wii Sports," said Hoffman, who was quoted in Game Guru. "These students will learn about nutrition and health and fitness that will help them out in the long run. We're hoping that this class opens students' eyes to what they're eating and how active they are and should be."

Although he laughed when he first heard of the course, Hoffman knew the gaming system could be effective. "I have one," he told the Chronicle, "so I knew it wasn't just playing video games on your couch."

Students taking the course will learn basic principles of proper nutrition and maintaining a healthy body weight, and will be given assignments requiring them to track their activities and monitor their calorie intake. Each student who completes the course will receive one credit hour.

Students are responding to the course enthusiastically. Sajid Qureshi, a 21-year-old chemical engineering student, thought at first that the course was too good to be true. But the twice-weekly sessions are helping him improve his balance.

"I wouldn't say it's better than a personal trainer," he told the Chronicle, "but it's up there."

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