Oct. 5, 2017 – Different companies have different philosophies about the key metrics in evaluating exercise sessions. There are devices the measure exercise at an elevated heart rate, how many steps we have taken, how fast we have run a given distance, and how many calories we have burned.

IHT designed the Spirit System to focus on minutes of exercise because academic research on both children and adults shows conclusively that exercise at an elevated heart rate is correlated to increased longevity, improved cognitive performance, and self-regulation and classroom functioning among children.

activityOur philosophy is in line with the Center for Disease Control’s 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans which recommends “that children and adolescents aged 6 to 17 years should have 60 minutes (1 hour) or more of physical activity each day” and that “most of the 60 or more minutes a day should be either moderate- or vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity and should include vigorous-intensity physical activity at least 3 days a week.” We believe that people young and old, students or adults, see the biggest health benefit from exercising at an elevated heart rate and that research on other measures do not show the same reliability and efficacy as heart rate training.

To help students get in tune with their bodies, develop healthy habits, and understand what exercising at an elevated heart rate feels like, we created the IHT Zone, a heart rate monitor that can easily show students of all ages information they can use to improve their exercise performance. The Spirit System simplifies heart rate training to two zones of elevated heart rate exercise, yellow and red. Teachers using the Spirit System set daily class goals that focus on encouraging students to put forth enough effort to reach those zones and stay there for as long as they can.

“I focus on heart rate, and here’s why,” explains Wyoming middle school P.E. teacher Mike Bradley. “I can walk 10,000 steps in a day without getting my heart rate up, and we have to get our heart rates up for those steps to really benefit us. If you get your heart rate up often enough, then you’re helping your overall health and fitness.”

From a physiological standpoint, exercising at an elevated heart rate allows blood to more efficiently deliver much-needed nutrients and oxygen to muscles. The heart becomes stronger as it works harder, improving its health over time and lowering the risk of cardiac disease. Additionally, more and more studies detail how improved fitness helps fuel academic and cognitive development, as researched by Learning Readiness PE developers Paul Zientarski and Phil Lawler. By improving their fitness, we are helping deliver students who are primed for academic success.

For additional reading, citations and links for academic research are available here:

CDC Youth Physical Activity Guidelines Toolkit. Link

A single weekly bout of exercise may reduce cardiovascular mortality: how little pain for cardiac gain? ‘The HUNT study, Norway.’ Ulrik Wisløff, Tom I.L. Nilsen, Wenche B. Drøyvold, Siv Mørkved, Stig A. Slørdahl, Lars J. Vatten. European Journal of Preventive Cardiology. Vol 13, Issue 5, pp. 798 – 804. Him First published date: August-28-2016. Link 

Muscular and Aerobic Fitness, Working Memory, and Academic Achievement in Children. Kao, Shih-Chun & Westfall, Daniel & C. Parks, Andrew & Pontifex, Matthew & Hillman, Charles. (2016). Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. 1.10.1249. Link 

Cybercycling Effects on Classroom Behavior in Children With Behavioral Health Disorders: An RCT. Bowling, April & Slavet, James & Miller, Daniel & Haneuse, Sebastien & Beardslee, William & Davison, Kirsten. (2017). Cybercycling Effects on Classroom Behavior in Children With Behavioral Health Disorders: An RCT. Pediatrics, January 2017. Link

Questions about IHT’s MVPA philosophy or anything related to your Spirit System use? Please don’t hesitate to call us at (512) 522-9354 and we will help you through any issue. You can also find guides, troubleshooting tips and more at the Spirit dashboard, located here.

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