By giving students a first-hand look at their favorite fitness activities, PE teachers help students understand the types of health-enhancing workouts they can utilize away from class.
Across the United States, teachers saw student engagement increase when they created heart rate-focused lessons based on their favorite exercises. In addition to traditional PE lessons, students learned the heart rate-raising benefits of exercises including:
“I was thinking about how much I enjoy running, how much [co-teacher] Meghan [Enos] enjoys running and how we want the kids to enjoy it a little more than the way they do now,” said Nichols (Mass.) Middle School PE teacher Kelly Rich.
PE Lesson Helps Students Find Pace, Passion for Running
Rich and Enos explored the trails adjacent to their campus and developed a unit introducing students to distance running. The teachers then ran alongside students during class to reinforce key habits. The teachers show students how to find – and maintain – their own pace, manage their heart rate both manually and with IHT Zone wrist heart rate monitors during exercise and learn to enjoy an activity they can participate in throughout their lives.
“They see us actively participating in the same thing and I think that helps a lot of the kids,” Rich said.
While their immediate goal remains teaching students about the benefits of running – improved cardiovascular fitness the primary benefit – they hope to inspire students to find their niche, as one student did in 2017.
“One student’s mother emailed me to tell me how her son loves the unit so much that he joined cross country and really found the first thing he’s really ever been good at and could do confidently,” Rich said. “That’s the whole idea, to get them to discover activities other than team sports that they can do their whole lives.”
Students Increase Participation with Cycling Unit
Growing up, Portland (Mich.) H.S. PE teacher Andy Pulling made riding bikes one of his primary fitness outlets. He brought that passion to his students by implementing a cycling program into his PE curriculum.
“I’m a bike person,” said Pulling. “I’ve always come back to purely enjoying being on two wheels, whether it’s on a trail or just on the road. I’m trying to share that with other kids.”
When he introduced the cycling unit to his students, he noticed many students became more engaged in his classes. Attendance improved and students normally content to spend PE class as bystanders became active and willing participants.
“There’s a lot that goes on with the fun aspect of it,” Pulling said. “With everything that I do, I want them to see that fitness can be fun. It doesn’t have to be this grueling, beat-yourself-up kind of activity to get in shape. You see a lot of reaction from students.”
Students Learn Value of PE Heart Rate Monitors
At Fort Lupton (Colo.) Middle School, health teacher Lindsay Yost focuses her fitness lessons on teaching the importance of two things: finding an activity to participate in long-term and understanding how to use a heart rate monitor to improve exercise habits.
Yost became familiar with heart rate monitors during her college track career and explains to her students how she uses it to help gauge her workouts today.
“I’m gauging my workout solely on heart rate,” she said. “We did some stuff in college, but that was fingers on the neck while coach counts. The kids having this technology so young is very exciting. They’ll be able to take that knowledge and use it as an adult.”
Students wear the IHT Zone wrist heart rate monitors during classroom exercise sessions and when accompanying Yost off campus during her favorite mountain bike units. Whether they follow in her pedals or choose another activity, she wants them to find an activity – and heart rate technology — they can stick with as they age.
Introducing Young PE Students to Heart Rate Training
Before she joined the PE teaching staff at Klem North (N.Y.) Elementary School, Sarah Murphy worked as a trainer at a local fitness center. She puts that background to work for her PE students, demonstrating the importance of getting active and making sure they understand what it means to exercise at an elevated heart rate.
“This is their first introduction to heart rate and calculating heart rate,” Murphy said in explaining a regular Tabata-style circuit that students complete in just four minutes at the start of most classes. “There is a deeper meaning to everything that we teach. We want the kids to walk away from our program as physically educated kids.”
As they continue to sharpen their heart rate skills, teachers hope students commit to taking steps to remain fit throughout their lives.
“Lifetime fitness is the foundation that they need to strive for,” Yost said. “Whether they are trying to run a 5K or cycling or doing triathlons or playing a pickup basketball game, whatever it may be, as an adult, having the knowledge and the desire to know how a heart rate monitor works will be a huge skill set that they can carry on with them.”
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