Integrating Technology in Physical Education: Innovative Tools for Student Engagement

‘In contrast to previous assumptions, smartphone use may actually drive physical activity levels and not the other way round.’

So concludes a study by BMC Public Health into the impact of technology on university student activity levels, as reported by the Medical News Bulletin. (

So…just a minute…does this mean that LCD and plasma screens might not be the arch nemesis of traditional human interaction and activity after all? Can it be that repeatedly curving your cervical spine whilst scrutinising a computer screen or looking at your smartphone instead of your surroundings as you walk through city or landscapes might actually help to improve your health and fitness?

Yeah, right.

Herein lies the crunch. Technology, screen or otherwise, is indeed making remarkable positive breakthroughs in the health, fitness and sporting lives of the everyday person as well as the elite athlete – but only if handled correctly.

Excessively, anxiously obsessing over your smart watch health data; watching sport on screen from the sedentary safety of your sofa; or only ever solitarily working out indoors with your digital personal trainer are not the way forward…but technology used correctly, really is.

In recent years, the level of take-up and interest has reached new heights with an over 3000% increase in the number of Google searches related to mobile applications in PE. This search echoes the desire for new users to identify a series of apps that could be revolutionise the way that PE is taught.   (

As modern technology advances, Physical Education teachers are finding more and more ways to bring technology to the gym. For example, physically demanding games such as ‘Dance Dance Revolution’, ‘Ring Fit Adventure’, ‘Wii Fit’ and ‘Just Dance’ combine onscreen graphics and personal targets with upbeat, current music and songs that propel students through workouts. This activity can be combined with the wearing of pedometers to track step-count and heart rate monitors, giving participants and coaches the chance to set and track fitness goals in an individual, discreet way whilst motivating students as they can see their progress. (

Users can share their progress with their friends

This sense of progress (and the associated self-motivation) is another bonus that technology can develop more effectively than the pride and encouragement of teacher, friends and family alone. Reminders, text messages and real-time alerts from apps are also reliable and regular motivators. Furthermore, fitness trackers may vibrate, make a noise, or display a congratulatory message or friendly face when a goal has been reached. Users can share their progress with their friends on social media easily which was found to be a great motivational tool. (🙂

This feedback, human and digital, is enjoyable and beneficial for both the amateur and professional athlete but technology can also help with independence in fitness. For example, apps such as ‘PE Shake’ provide warm up games ideas which are quick and easy to set up with a quick shake of the phone or tablet. Students love the random selection process and the autonomy of getting to choose the warm up for the start of the lesson. Teachers benefit from new ideas and inspiring students to take control of their own fitness involvement.

Technology in Physical Education also enables older students and developing athletes to enjoy the companionship and motivation of working out with others in the gym whilst following their own bespoke fitness programme provided by their chosen treadmill, spin bike, rowing machine, stepper or cross trainer  ( The perfect combination of good old-fashioned human interaction with electronic expertise!

Of course, just as behind every successful, long-lasting athlete is a healthy diet and proper support, so the technology in Physical Education can only achieve its potential if serviced and maintained regularly and correctly. There is no doubt that using technology can take sport and fitness into new spheres of enjoyment and benefit but it does also mean that there may be more to break down in the equipment we use. No good having the most technically-impressive gym in town or a curriculum full of electronic-based inspiration if the treadmill won’t turn, the screen won’t interact or the database won’t inform!

If trouble strikes, it is essential for student learning and smooth running of both the school timetable and gym circuit that issues are fixed quickly and professionally. For Sportsafe customers, state-of-the-art technology takes centre stage not only in the equipment we supply, install, inspect and maintain but in our electronic reporting system delivering quotations for repairs withing two working days of the inspection.

Time to try the tech!