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Success of Joe Wicks shows why schools must integrate activity alongside PE

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Success of Joe Wicks shows why schools must integrate activity alongside PE

The Daily Mile™ National Coordinator Molly Adkin looks at the success of Joe Wicks' #PEWithJoe campaign and what it tells us about the need to integrate activity and physical education in schools.

The Body Coach, Joe Wicks, has taken households by storm in the weeks following the closure of most schools with his #PEWithJoe – daily 20-minute activity sessions, that families can do from their own homes.

Now, #PEWithJoe cannot be a direct replacement for a PE lesson - teachers will agree with that - but the secret to Joe Wicks' success is a non-competitive and fun means of being active, with each other, every day.

Peaking at nearly one million viewers, could this be the type of activity that children actually want and need in our primary schools?

Like everyone, the physical activity sector is changing as we adapt to the situation that the world finds itself in, we are moving more and more from the real into the virtual.

We are exploring different ways to be active with limited resources, and in doing so, are seeing a bottom-up approach towards activity, exemplified by The Body Coach.

For possibly the first time, we are able to see from our target audiences, almost instantaneously, what it is that they want to do to stay active. More often than not, fun is the focus, and at this moment in time, technology is the tool.

But what happens when schools return?

PE has often felt like an under-valued subject, but all of a sudden, it has its very own spotlight and the viewing figures Joe Wicks has been getting on YouTube, shows us that there is a gap to be filled in the primary school PE and physical activity offer.

Alongside physical education and the more traditional sport options – because these both have huge benefits and long must they continue – there needs to be more.

Physical activity needs more freedom, more fun and more involvement in the wider school day.

We need initiatives like The Daily Mile, which offers a fluid and non-competitive activity option for pupils to explore, alongside the curriculum. 

Exercise should not start and end with the PE lesson.

With Joe Wicks, it seems there comes a glimmer of hope. “My mission before all this was to try to make regular exercise – not games or sport – be on the curriculum,” he says.

“I want children to have 15 or 20 minutes at the start of the day. It will turn your child into a positive, optimistic, focused and energised little human being.”

Seeing his #PEWithJoe campaign take off around the world, it’s hard not to disagree.

The toughest critics of all, our children, also seem convinced. 

The #PEWithJoe ‘homework’ last week, was to write a poem on how exercise makes you feel.

Nine-year-old Davina wrote: “I feel strong, I feel more than fine, I feel amazing and alive,” and there are thousands of enthusiastic comments from children on Joe's YouTube channel every morning.

There are answers to the inactivity problem here, and it is essential that we continue to listen. 

As Kennedy, 12, writes: “After exercise I feel like a rainbow-charged unicorn, bathing in a pool of sparkly cupcakes’.

Exercise, it seems, is transformative.




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London Sport aims to ensure Londoners live happier, healthier lives through sport and physical activity

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London Sport aims to ensure more Londoners live happier, healthier lives through sport and physical activity. Supported by the Mayor of London and Sport England, our target is to get Londoners more physically active.

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