Returning to On-Campus PE and Reunited with IHT ZONE Heart Rate Monitors, Students Become More Active to Get Back to Healthy Fitness Levels
Being without access to the IHT ZONE heart rate monitors last spring motivated Odebolt Arthur-Battle Creek-Ida Grove High School (Iowa) students to work harder when they returned to on-campus physical education classes in August.
“When we were all informed we would no longer be in person (in March, 2020), it was difficult,” OABCIG PE teacher Jeff Miesner said. “I was able to have students fill out logs and do some journaling while at home.”
But that wasn’t the same experience, the teacher said, and fitness suffered.
At home on their own, students simply didn’t get as much exercise as they did when attending on-campus PE classes. Back on campus for the 2020-21 school year and using the IHT ZONE monitors, Miesner’s students quickly saw they needed to increase their physical activity.
“The students have been able to see that quite a few of them had increased resting heart rates from the lack of overall movement in their lives,” Miesner said. Resting heart rate can be an indicator of overall fitness: the lower the resting heart rate, the healthier the heart.
From the moment his district decided it would resume on-campus learning, Miesner knew he’d rely on the IHT ZONES to help get students back on track. Miesner has used his IHT ZONES more than any teacher in the country with the goal of getting them active again. Students have PE three times each week.
“Every day the students have PE, they are wearing the ZONES,” Miesner said. “We wear the ZONES for every activity.”
Students are familiar with the technology and know what’s expected of them when they put one on their wrist at the beginning of class. For many, getting to use the IHT ZONE again helped bring them a sense of normalcy in an abnormal year.
“The students want to be here and want to be active,” he said. “I’ve made sure things are set up in a way to (enforce) the social distancing while still trying to maintain as much active time as possible.”
Health and Safety as a Top Priority
School officials allowed Miesner to continue using his IHT ZONES and sharing monitors with different classes because he has always taken extra steps to make sure the monitors were properly cleaned.
“Once the district decided to return to in-person classes this fall, there was no concern about using the ZONES in class,” he said. “We’ve always taken class time to clean and sanitize the (monitors), so there weren’t a lot of changes in protocol to be made.”
Miesner’s students pick up and return their monitors at one of two computers, which also helps students adhere to the social distancing required by COVID protocols.
“This allows me to keep students farther apart at (pickup and return) times,” he said.
If COVID wasn’t enough of a disruption, the school is in the process of adding on to its building. While active construction can be chaotic, Miesner said it’s been just one more thing to accept and deal with.
“We’ve had to make adjustments to our curriculum for all of that, so using the ZONES and adjusting for COVID have been easy,” he said. “Some of our activities keep us in the gym and some allow us to go outside.”
Pushing Students to Stay Active and Informed
As the weather improves, Miesner’s students will spend more time outside. Along with the fresh air and more room to exercise in their own space, students have mixed more active games in with their fitness activities. Classes now include, among other activities and games:
- DrumFit, a cardio drumming activity set to music;
- badminton; and
- disc golf
The combination of fitness activities and games has kept students engaged and working in different heart rate zones.
“There are always students who don’t feel comfortable or confident in some of the activities,” he said. “Having the ZONES allows for all the students to change their mindset and focus on their personal health and wellbeing.”
Miesner echoed what other teachers who use the IHT ZONE have seen: the heart rate monitor allows students to focus on themselves and work individually to achieve goals and to receive objective feedback based on their specific physiology.
“There is still motivation for the students,” he said. “They enjoy getting to see what their heart rates are doing during a workout. The use of the ZONE is a great tool for the students to monitor what their body feels like when they reach different heart rate ranges.”
While students receive real-time heart rate feedback during class, Miesner continues to rely on the post-session emails to reinforce daily lessons and keep parents informed about their student’s progress.
“The best part about using the ZONES is the communication with the parents that it allows,” he said. “The emails with the daily workout sessions are great for letting the students and the parents know what is going on in class.”
The session reports confirm what the students are noticing during class – and with their overall fitness as the year has progressed.
“Throughout the school year I have had students mention to me that their resting heart rate has decreased,” he said. “ I did initially see that it was easier for students to get into their heart rate zones, but as the year has progressed I’ve seen fitness levels increase.”