PE Heart Rate Monitors Teach Students Healthy Fitness Management
Using the combination of student heart rate and heart rate zone displayed on the IHT Zone wrist heart rate monitors, physical education students show they can manage their fitness and well-being while at school.
Given a target heart rate zone to reach, students spend more class time exercising at an elevated heart rate.
“I had kids who were standing there extra long as they were [picking up their Zones],” said Crestview (Iowa) School of Inquiry PE Teacher Chris Amundson. “I walked over to figure out what they were doing and they were all talking about how many minutes they needed to get to their goal for today; what they needed to do to push themselves.”
Rock River (Wisc.) Intermediate School teacher Jackie Clark introduced the PE heart rate technology to her classes last fall and saw student effort levels increase significantly.
“My students have never been more motivated to ‘get in their zone’ before,” she said. “My students have easy access to retrieve their heart rate monitor, activate it within seconds, and off they go with their warm-up. Students are then able to monitor their heart rate throughout the entire class period with the heart rate display accessible to them any time.”
While Amundson and Clark praised their younger students for taking ownership of their class workouts, high school students have also taken the next step toward self-management. At Odebolt Arthur-Battle Creek-Ida Grove (Iowa) High School, PE teacher Jeff Miesner said his students started demonstrating a number of essential skills when he added the Zones to his classes:
- Self-managed workouts
- Regularly exceeding daily goals
- Overall improvement on fitness assessments
“Our goal is for them to be conscious about their own level of effort,” Miesner said. “Students are able to see if they are in their zone, or if they are pushing themselves too hard.”
The ability for students to be conscious of their own effort level appealed to Ann Arbor (Mich.) Public Schools Adaptive PE Teacher Consultant Deak Swearingen, who saw a different use of the technology for his students.
“IHT wasn’t created for adaptive PE or students with disabilities,” he said. “It was created for the masses. It allows you really to individualize learning, individualize instruction, and that’s the focal point of adaptive PE.”
Swearingen’s students, many of whom face severe physical or cognitive challenges, wear the Zones during the school day in an effort to manage their well-being and, in some certain cases, safety. Swearingen said students may not understand the heart rate calculations, but they are learning to self-manage when they notice that their Zone is flashing red, indicating an elevated heart rate, when they are simply sitting in class.
“I have a student who has behavior issues, and her issues can be quite severe,” Swearingen said. “This student has learned when she senses her anxiety begin to spike, she would actually ask me to go out on the track instead of being in the fitness center. She would walk a lap in order to cool down to self-regulate so she doesn’t have a meltdown and hurt anyone or herself. She would come back when her heart rate zone got lower. She was able to comprehend that. She doesn’t have the ability to understand 110 beats per minute, but she understands it going from red to yellow to blue and she can come back to class.”
Health and fitness are often tied together. When students demonstrate the ability to master those skills, the results can be, in Swearingen’s words, “transcendent.”
“Now, all of a sudden she had a good day because she was able to keep it together, and that’s transcending right there,” he said. “For certain individuals, you can see them grasp the fitness implications. For others, it’s mostly a safety precaution.”