Guest Blogger Katie Carone at Carone Fitness joins Getting Smart today with the article “Online PE. Not Just a Virtual Workout.,” which takes a close look at the ways that online physical fitness courses are more than just fitness videos on computer screens. In fact, she inspires us to imagine an online fitness program that facilitates students’ inner drive to develop healthy habits and lifestyles.

More than one in three American children are currently overweight or obese. These astounding statistics have been screaming the need for change for many years now. Online learning has provided solutions in academic arenas, but can it help our children’s health as well. Let’s enter the online world of physical education (PE).

The Benefits of Online PE.
  • Just like adults in the “real world,” students have to choose when, where, and how they exercise. Thus establishing a habit they can continue after class is over.
  • In addition to participating in regular physical activity, students learn the principles of health and fitness, not just the rules of a sport.
  • By choosing activities they enjoy, students are more likely to get started and stick with it over time.
  • Students receive individualized feedback from an instructor—kind of like having their own personal trainer.
  • Students perform in a non-competitive environment. This is ideal for students who are out of shape or uncomfortable in a group environment (often those who do poorly in a face to face PE setting).
  • Everything this tailored to the individual. With structured guidance they set their own goals, design their own program, and evaluate their progress.

In addition to the individual benefits, providing an online solution can be beneficial for schools and students in many additional circumstances. Including:

  • For small schools with limited facilities to offer PE
  • For students that are falling behind
  • For student that want to get ahead or take more rigorous academic classes
  • For IEP students
  • To provide summer school options, and
  • To increase a teacher’s student load while decreasing a teacher’s workload.
How Does It Work?

While online PE sounds like an oxymoron, it can and does work. Here’s the basics.

  • Students conduct a fitness assessment, analyze it according to national standards, set personal goals, and choose or design an exercise program to follow.
  • Students view modeling through pictures, video, and instruction of a variety of skills and exercises.
  • Students submit pictures or videos of themselves performing specific skills or exercises so an instructor can provide feedback.
  • Students view informational lessons, participate in online discussion forums about health and fitness topics, and complete weekly assignments.
  • Students must meet a weekly physical activity requirement and keep record on a detailed fitness log.
  • Physical activity must be verified via a supervising adult and/or an upload enabled heart rate monitor.

It’s true that online PE may not be the primary and independent answer to solving the childhood obesity problem. Yet, it can certainly provide a personalized physical education experience for a student that paves the road to a healthy lifestyle. Students and schools can benefit from exploring an online PE solution.

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