Teacher’s First Heart Rate Monitor Lessons Show Students the Importance of MVPA and Calming Themselves in Tense Situations
In her first week using IHT ZONE heart rate monitors with her students, Selma Middle School (Ind.) teacher Tammy Brant delivered an important lesson about staying calm in stressful situations.
The lesson reached more than her students. The administration noticed as well. When he heard about it, Principal Heath Dudley came to watch.
“Actually, he came down and videotaped the class because he thought this was amazing,” Brant said.
“Everybody needs this life skill,” Brant said. “We talk about stress and anxiety, especially with middle school kids. I told them ‘even as you get older, as old as me, you still have some stress and anxiety and you have to know how to calm yourself down.’”
While many teachers start with lessons geared toward moderate to vigorous physical activity where students see how their hearts respond as they increase their exercise intensity, Brant made sure students understand the value of a low heart rate.
“The social-emotional element is important,” Brant said. “Not everything we do is geared toward a high heart rate. Once your heart rate is a certain level, your performance goes down. If you are so anxious and worried about a test, how are you going to get yourself calmed down? You’ve got to get that heart rate down and relax.”
Brant explained to students that the IHT ZONE monitors show them everything they need to manage their heart rate, including:
- Their actual heart rate in real time
- A color indicating the heart rate zone they are currently in
While Brant waited a day to show students the value of their actual heart rate, she first focused on the different zones:
- Blue indicates a resting heart rate or, translated into an emotion, calmness
- Yellow indicates a heart rate during moderate activity or excitement or worry
- Red indicates a heart rate during vigorous activity or high levels of stress, anger or elation
“When your heart is racing, you have to know what that feels like so you can get yourself calmed down,” Brant said. “With our first lesson, we were just trying to get their heart rates as low as possible.”
To help students relax, Brant teaches students different breathing techniques, including “High 5 Breathing” and “4-7-8 Breathing.”
Brant’s second lesson focused on target heart rate and the benefits of moderate to vigorous physical activity.
“We talked about target heart rate and how being there for 20 minutes will help you with your cardiovascular fitness,” Brant said. “We’d talked about that before. This was a good implementation (of the monitors).”
@tbrant3 working on slowing down our heart rates….Good life skill. pic.twitter.com/40qKeQvLCL
— Selma Middle School (@Selma_MS_Braves) September 20, 2022
Brant also took the time to explain to students that each person’s heart rate will be different during an activity.
“I told them for an activity that I wanted them to reach a heart rate of 120 (beats per minute),” she said. “We talked about how your 120 may look different than someone else’s 120. You may think that this person who is walking isn’t doing the same amount of work as you, but in fact they may be at 150. We talked about being individualized and how you can’t base your observation only on what you see someone doing. And we talked about why that may be, genetics, fitness level, different things. Everybody is different.”
Teaching Lifelong Skills Using the Right Heart Rate Monitors
Brant wanted to introduce the technology to her students because she needs to teach them the value of monitoring their own exercise.
“I told the kids, once we start implementing these and you’ve used it for three years (for her 6th grade students), by the time you leave me I want you to know how you feel when you’re in yellow, when you’re in red,” she said. “How do you feel? You may never have your own heart rate monitor to be able to monitor your exercise. That’s what we’re trying to recognize.”
Brant has used heart rate monitors in the past but said different frustrations made her keep looking for the right monitor.
“I had one monitor for years and I stopped using them because I hated the chest straps,” she said. “We bought those with a PEP grant and dealing with the straps just became such a hassle that it was taking away from my instruction.”
She researched another company’s product but didn’t like that because she needed to install a projector so she and students could see the data.
“It wasn’t possible to put a projector in my ceiling, and I couldn’t set one up in my gym to show on the wall because that takes up play space and I don’t have that big of a play space,” she continued.
Then she discovered the IHT ZONE. She liked that the wrist device showed students their heart rate and showed their heart rate zone by color.
“This is ideal for what I wanted (the monitor) to do,” Brant said. “Kids can see their heart rate. I can look at them and see where they are just based on the lights. I don’t have to worry about taking up any space with a projector.”
Local Funding from a National Source
Brant faced just one challenge to purchase the IHT ZONE monitors: funding. As a frequent visitor to her local Dick’s Sporting Goods, Brant learned that the stores in each region have funds they can award to local schools. She talked with her local store manager about her PE program and that was that. A few weeks later, she got a call with very good news.
“I always thought ‘when I get funding, I will get some (IHT monitors),’” she said. “The manager had asked if I could use $1,000, and then they came back and said it was going to be $5,000. I was actually at SHAPE America when I found out. I went right to IHT.”
Dick’s came to Selma to take part in the school’s convocation to present Brant with her funding.
Nationally, Dick’s Sporting Goods donates awards grants to schools through its Sports Matter initiative. Through its 501(c)3 fundraising arm, Dick’s provides grants for school and youth sports organizations across the country. According to its website, “1 out of every 21 public schools has received funding for sports programs from the Dick’s Sporting Goods Foundation.”