Sept. 13, 2017 – By pairing a daily goal with new heart rate technology, students at Odebolt Arthur Battle Creek Ida Grove High School (Ida Grove, Iowa) proved they can take ownership of their own fitness programs.
Students in Jeff Miesner’s physical education classes began using the IHT ZONE wrist heart rate monitors in October, 2016. At the start, students participated in workouts Miesner developed. Months later, the teacher felt comfortable stepping back, observing and encouraging students as they worked toward each day’s goal of minutes of Moderate to Vigorous Physical Activity.
“When the students saw the goal I had for them each day it became something measurable for them,” Miesner said. “They knew my expectations if goals were or were not met. I did my best to create an atmosphere that was challenging yet enjoyable even when physical activity can be difficult.”
Miesner’s students logged nearly 550,000 minutes of exercise during class in eight months, 328,000 of which qualified as MVPA. Only two other schools using the IHT Spirit System achieved more MVPA minutes. Miesner saw seven classes per day and students used the IHT ZONE monitors on 134 different days.
Students adjusted quickly to the heart rate monitors and began to display traits that will benefit them as they become adults. They learned how to manage their effort to stay in the target heart rate zones, and their success in meeting goals helped boost their overall confidence.
“Our goal is for them to be conscious about their own level of effort,” Miesner said, noting that effort to achieve MVPA resulted in better fitness test results as the year progressed. “Students felt more confident in themselves and that carried over into their workouts.”
Flipping the class
The student’s progression helped Miesner change his role. After serving as the focal point early in the year, Miesner saw he could step back and let the students take control – and ownership – of each session.
“The majority of their workouts became self-managed,” he said. “I might occasionally walk by a student and compliment them on working hard, as gauged by their heart rate.”
By consistently meeting daily goals and maximizing their effort in class, students gained the freedom to personalize their workouts.
“By the end of the year students were individualizing workouts for their specific needs,” Miesner said. “Students were always allowed to modify workouts as they felt necessary to make what accommodations were necessary.”
As students demonstrated their mastery of the lesson – and their own effort as shown on the wrist-based heart rate monitor, Miesner could focus on students who needed more guidance. With his guidance and the real-time feedback from the Zone monitors, most students could make necessary adjustments.
“If I noticed a student or group wasn’t where they should be, I just mentioned where their heart rates should be for that activity,” he said. “Then students would check their heart rate monitors and continue to monitor themselves from that point. It helped so much with a measurable device for assessing student ‘effort.’”
Miesner made sure each student read and understood the data delivered in the workout summary email by creating journal entries.
“I wanted the students to learn how to self-assess their workouts, so they replied to the email they received with their thoughts,” Miesner said. “I feel that by the end of the year the students understood what the data was telling them.”
Beyond the daily goal
Once the students learned to read the reports and interpret the data, they began to take control of their class sessions, which Miesner hopes will keep them on a path to good health and fitness.
“I enjoyed the fact that it allowed the students to take more ownership over their own health and take what they were/are learning from the classroom into the real world,” he said.
Those intrinsic habits will last much longer than any class session, and Miesner’s students have already begun to demonstrate that.
“I have had several students who used to live a sedentary lifestyle communicate with me this summer about starting workouts and trying to become healthier just for themselves and not because someone told them to do so,” he said.