By stepping outside the comfortable confines of the school gymnasium, Betsy Luck reminded her Oskaloosa Middle School students just how much fun they can have – and how hard they can work – by playing in the snow.

On a January day, Luck and her students spent their physical education classes outside sledding down – and walking back up – the biggest hill in the area. Along with their heavy winter clothes and coats, students wore their IHT ZONE wrist heart rate monitors. After class, they learned why.

Student Heart Rate“They were very surprised by their heart rate reports,” Luck said. “They didn’t know why I wanted them to wear their ZONES outside, but I just told them that ‘they’ll see’.”

At the beginning of each class period, Luck’s students picked up their ZONE heart rate monitors and headed outside. While students enjoyed one of winter’s most popular outdoor childhood activities, the ZONE monitor worked as well. While students sled, the ZONE:

  • Tracked student heart rate throughout the session;
  • Stored the data without needing a constant Bluetooth internet connection; and 
  • Transferred the heart rate data to Luck’s computer, where the teacher’s IHT Spirit System® analyzed the data and delivered it to students, teachers, and parents for their review and study.

Following 40 minutes outside, students saw that they’d done more than simply reconnect with a favorite winter childhood activity.

“I think sledding was an awesome way to help us be healthy kids because it incorporates a fun activity into exercise,” one student wrote.

‘The biggest hill in town’

One of Oskaloosa’s steepest hills can be found just a few hundred yards outside Luck’s gymnasium. Students don’t think much of that hill, though some of the school’s coaches do.

“It’s the same hill that our football team uses for conditioning,” Luck said. “It’s a monster. It might be the biggest hill in town.”

Luck knows that if she plans normal activities around running up the hill, students won’t fully buy-in. She felt confident, though, that many of her students would enjoy taking a break from the school day – and normal PE class activities – to have fun sledding. Luck announced the date to give students time to plan – and collect the necessary winter gear – so that everyone could enjoy the activity.

“We don’t do a lot outside during the winter,” she said. “We don’t have a lot of equipment we can use for those kinds of activities. But we planned for this and made sure that everyone had appropriate clothing and we had enough sleds and tubes, and you could really see that they enjoyed themselves.

Student Heart RateAlong with the enjoyment came important lessons for students who are learning the benefits of exercising at an elevated heart rate. Luck’s students regularly reflect – the IHT software allows students to make a journal entry when the summary report is delivered to their email inboxes – on what they learn from the different class activities based on how they feel and what they see in their heart rate reports. 

Luck said most students expected that walking their sled or tube back up the hill would be hard, heart-rate-raising work, and it was. They didn’t expect to see their heart rates remain elevated as they rode back down to the bottom of the hill.

“That was the thing they were most surprised about,” Luck said. “Their heart rate stayed up for the ride down because they were excited about what they were doing. It was fun to see.”

 “I think sledding was an awesome way to help us be healthy kids because it incorporates a fun activity into exercise,” one student wrote.

“We went sledding and when you walk up the hill it makes your heart, lungs, blood vessels and blood work efficiently and to supply a person’s body with oxygen,” another wrote.

“It’s fun to see them put their feelings into words,” Luck said. 

Reinforcing Benefits of Each Heart Rate Zone

While sledding – and many of Luck’s regular activities – focus on students exercising in the yellow (moderate) or red (hard-working) heart rate zones, she also wants students to understand how to control their heart rate and remain calm in stressful situations.

On the same days that Luck conducts fitness testing – she assesses student fitness using the PYFP/FitnessGram® 20-meter beep test (PACER) – she starts with establishing a true resting heart rate. The goal is to ensure that students are relaxed and ready for the fitness test, but it also helps students see when they may have trouble relaxing.

“On the same day we do the PACER, we start by calculating our resting heart rate (RHR),” Luck explained. “We see kids who are laying down are in the red or yellow zones. After we make sure they are wearing the monitor correctly, then we check again. This allows us to see if that student is feeling okay physically or emotionally and have a conversation if we need to.”

Luck also uses a golf unit to reinforce the importance of staying calm and relaxed. She invites local golf professionals into her classes. The pros help students with the proper golf fundamentals but also discuss the importance of regulating heart rate in key moments.

“They explain why you need to stay calm and collected and really slow your breathing down ,” she said. “You want to stay in the blue zone. It also allows us to have good conversations about expectations for different activities.”

And the heart rate data obtained through wearing their IHT ZONE heart rate monitors help reinforce what students feel while completing the activities.

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    Heart Rates, Spirits Soar As Students Take Class Into Snowy Winter Wonderland
    Article Name
    Heart Rates, Spirits Soar As Students Take Class Into Snowy Winter Wonderland
    Students experience how a fun activity can bring heart rate benefits while sledding down, walking up biggest hill at school.
    Publisher Name
    Interactive Health Technologies, LLC
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