I was one of the lucky ones. I quite liked PE and sport at school but there were loads of kids who hated it - the mean spirited teachers, being the last one picked for the team, the cold showers, the list goes on. A lot of these kids left the running around and physical exercise until home time, without the threat of hard cricket balls and muddy footballs coming their way.
For many kids nowadays who aren’t keen on school PE lessons, it’s far more appealing to spend time after hours sitting on a warm couch playing the latest Playstation or Xbox game. Remembering this is the same generation that Jamie Oliver is desperately trying to lure away from turkey twizzlers, the inactivity of the nation’s future adults and the health risks this and their diet pose is a worrying combination.
As a whole, the nation has become increasingly sedentary. According to a Department of Transport study, only 1 in 10 children now walk to school in comparison to 7 out of 10 in 1975 and the number of kids driven to school has increased 20% in the last 20 years.
But the technology industry is nothing if not innovative and picking up on these concerns from government, parents and the media have launched a new product that tries to capture the lure of the console with exercise.
Basically, the Step2Play machine links directly to a games console controller rather than the actual game so it can be used on any Playstation game. Cleverly, the game’s controller will only work if the child keeps up a constant pre-set rate of exercise and the game stops if the child stops exercising. Some critics have labelled this invention as bribery but with the serious health problems the current levels of inactivity bring does it really matter? Shouldn’t we just accept that times change?
Evolving technology has in some part contributed to our children’s tendency towards inactivity (think TV, DVDs , computers, games consoles ), we can’t go backwards so why not embrace innovations like Step2 Play for what they are – a way of encouraging kids to exercise using the technology that has already won over the generation. Besides, which parent of a child under 12 - the age group Step2Play is aimed at - isn’t above a bit of good old fashioned bribery?
This invention could be just the start of commercial companies encouraging kids who otherwise would quite happily spend school nights and weekends slumped in front of a screen to get active, albeit still in front of a screen!
While not ideal – arguably it should be the government’s or parents jobs to encourage physical activity in our youngsters – at least it’s a start. If it catches on who knows, we could see peddle powered TV for couch potatoes adults, sounds kind of fun!
Nick Kirwan is protection market director at Scottish Widows
The views expressed are those of the author and not those of the company he represents.IFAonline
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