Shift from Sports to Fitness, Use of PE Heart Rate Technology Motivates Students to Develop Complete Set of Wellness ‘Toolbox’
Changes in the PE curriculum are helping Hamburg Area (Penn.) High School students learn essential fitness and wellness management skills.
Last year, Hamburg Area PE teacher Donine Kelly completely overhauled her PE program, moving away from sports and games. Kelly’s curriculum teaches students to focus on their total health and wellness picture, which includes:
Physical education remained a key component of the curriculum, though Kelly changed the way she encouraged students to improve their physical fitness. She retired the footballs, basketballs and other types of equipment and began working on fitness skills with effort and progress measured by student heart rate.
“We have moved away from the traditional, old school, team-based sports model and moved towards a more lifetime, fitness-based model that really addresses all of the spheres of wellness — mental, emotional, social, physical and spiritual,” she said.
Heart Rate Technology Boosts Motivation in New PE Curriculum
Kelly’s physical fitness program features IHT Zone wrist heart rate monitors, which help students develop intrinsic skills ensure they get the most out of their exercise sessions both at school and at home. The monitors show students both their actual heart rate and the heart rate zone in which they are exercising.
Students wear the monitors in class every day as they strive to meet the goal of minutes spent exercising in the target heart rate zone, which can vary depending on that day’s workout goal. Along with the immediate feedback from the Zone monitors, students learn from a workout summary they receive from the IHT Spirit System software via email at the end of the session. Since swapping older heart rate monitors for IHT’s Zone monitors, Kelly’s seen students up their effort in class.
“Students are much more motivated and tuned into their performance levels for the day,” she said. “Getting immediate feedback at the end of the period is also a huge plus. They can’t wait to see if they met their goal for the day.”
PE Curriculum Focuses on Overall Health, Emotional Wellness
Along with the physical fitness, Kelly’s program helps students focus on other elements of their fitness. Students interact socially on a regular basis and study other behavioral elements through different health class units. The curriculum places as much emphasis on students nurturing their emotional fitness as it does the physical.
“We want to create awareness and have them leave us with a ‘toolbox’ of knowledge and plans on how they will address each sphere of wellness,” Kelly said.
The changes Kelly’s made to her curriculum caught the eye of her administration, which encouraged her to utilize both the natural surroundings and support from community businesses and organizations – to further enhance the curriculum. Kelly wrapped up the 2017-18 school year by taking her senior students to a nearby lake for her first Wellness Day at the Lake.
Students got to experience new activities and visit booths set up by area businesses. Many experienced paddle-boarding and kayaking for the first time. They also visited with health-based businesses to learn more about creating healthy meals and choosing healthy snacks.
“It turned out to be an amazing day and an eye-opening day for many of our students,” Kelly said.