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HHP Department gets UH into Guinness Book of World Records

Health and Human Performance Department’s Wii Performance course recognized as first in the world

Students at Wii Studio

At first glance, it looks like a game room with young people scattered throughout a recently renovated space, laughing and staring at a screen while manipulating avatars with their remote controllers for Nintendo’s Wii home video game system.

But, actually, it’s a class room and the young people are students enrolled in a Health and Human Performance course. The video games and game technology are learning tools in the Wii Performance course, which has earned the University of Houston a noteworthy, nonacademic recognition.

The class, which originated in the Department of Health and Human Performance, is now listed in the 2014 Gamers edition of the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s first Wii-based university course. The course was first unveiled in 2009, and has been popular among students ever since.

“Being recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records is certainly a unique honor for an academic department,” said Dr. Charles Layne, chair of the Health and Human Performance Department. “ We are always looking for ways to more effectively serve our students’ overall wellness needs and the Wii class is a great example of that.  We are pleased to be acknowledged as being on the cutting edge as indicated by this singular world record.”  

The video game system serves as a personal trainer and tracks a person’s movements and measures daily exercise against personal fitness goals. HHP saw the trend early and quickly became an innovator in game-based fitness courses.

The Wii Performance course incorporates several different Wii video games, including Wii Fit, EA Sports Active, and Wii Sports Resort. But the class isn’t just about playing the games – it is an academic class about overall healthy living.

“Using the Wii to exercise is especially relevant for individuals who don’t have access to a park or a gym – or for anyone who needs easy access to a workout,” said Jessica Wheeler, Program Coordinator.

The games allow users and avatars to move and act simultaneously while teaching good posture, achieving center of balance, and improving overall health and fitness knowledge. Students in the course also learn the basic principles of maintaining a healthy body weight through proper nutrition.

Periodic quizzes are given to ensure students comprehend these concepts – as well as how to properly care for and operate the equipment.

“Students keep nutrition and food journals, study Body Mass Index, and participate in VO2 testing, which measures their oxygen usage and aerobic fitness,” said Wheeler. “It is a unique and different way for students to earn college credit as well as become physically active.”

- By Monica Byars