Using heart rate monitors allows PE teachers to introduce students to the wearable fitness devices they’ll have access to – and benefit from – later in life.
After researching their options, many teachers choose the IHT ZONE wrist heart rate monitor for their students. They prefer its simplicity to other devices – even the ones they wear themselves.
“Here’s what I really like about the IHT ZONEs: It is simple,” Des Moines (Iowa) Public Schools PE Curriculum Director Carlye Satterwhite said. “I have worn my own personal fitness device for years and I still don’t know what to focus on with it. For these students, they just need to focus on their target heart rate. This has that information and that’s all, and to put that information into their hands earlier is huge.”
The IHT ZONE provides students with real-time feedback that motivates them to meet or exceed their goals. The feedback includes:
- Their actual heart rate as they exercise;
- The heart rate zone they are exercising in according to color: blue for low-level activity, yellow for moderate activity and red for vigorous activity; and
- An email that summarizes their heart rate and minutes spent in each heart rate zone and confirmation of achievement toward goal.
The post-session feedback, both on their teachers’ computer screen when returning the ZONE after class and through the summary email, puts the data directly in students’ hands. They don’t need to seek it out as they might with other devices.
“All these other wearables that are made for individuals and sold at retail, all of those things have no mission attached to them,” Australian PE teacher Shane Stubbs said. “I’ve asked student after student after student, ‘I see you’ve got yourself a (name your device). Hands up if you’ve ever looked at the dashboard or the app or the website?’ Then I ask, ‘how many of you know what it means?’ None of them do.”
But they’re learning.
Motivating Students with Individual Fitness Results
Teachers start by building student engagement through the IHT ZONE monitors. By assessing students based on their heart rate and whether they meet or exceed the day’s goal for minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity, teachers put the individuals in charge of their own performance.
San Bernardino Unified School District PE Teacher/Coordinator Scott Smith used the IHT ZONE as part of a complete program overhaul that saw students completely change their perception of his classes.
“As soon as we gave them the heart rate monitors, they really felt at that time that we really cared about them as individuals,” Smith said. “I would say at this point that 90% of those students, if not more, have changed their opinion of PE. The reason was that they can look at the data from their (monitor), the data that we would give them, and they now have the power to make a difference in themselves.”
With the IHT ZONE, students of all ages figure out that they are no longer graded on whether they are the fastest student in the class or can run more laps than anyone else.
“Now, we don’t have to guess, and it’s really helped us see what’s really happening as opposed to what we thought was happening as we watched students in class,” Fossil Ridge (Colo.) High School PE teacher Lisa McVicker said. “The evidence shows us what is really going on. It helps us reaffirm that students really are doing what they need to do. That bigger student who’s walking, she is really getting her heart rate up. The IHT monitors give us better and more meaningful feedback.”
Giving their best effort, regardless of how other students and even teachers perceive it, is enough.
“Regardless of your fitness level, your target heart rate zone is tailored to you,” Glen Crest (Ill.) Middle School PE teacher Kelly Nordlund stresses with her students.
“They are no longer being graded against somebody else, and that allows them to push themselves and set their own goals,” Smith said. “They are open to conversations about their health and fitness because they feel better about themselves.”
Exercising Like Adults
Many students already come to school with their own smart watches that include heart rate monitoring and other fitness capabilities. By starting with the IHT ZONE, teachers can show students the most important metrics to understand amidst all of the other data they can seek out, as Satterwhite referenced.
“The other gadgets, they have things that can overwhelm kids,” Satterwhite said. “They are not good for what students should be learning, which should be ‘how do I get and stay physically active?’”
With the heart rate data in front of them in easy-to-understand formats, teachers can focus at the same time on fitness programs that emulate what students will see as adults. Many teachers incorporate circuit training into their classes, others give students opportunities to find activities they can be successful doing.
“Whatever you’re doing, if you’re enjoying it you’re more likely to do it in your adult life or when you’re just out of school,” Nordlund said. “And that’s kind of the whole point, right? Fitness for life and be healthy for your whole life.”
Nordlund routinely brings the workout habits of adults into her class. She talks with students about how their parents make time for their exercise – and having a campus located in the middle of a neighborhood where adults can be seen walking during the day helps.
“Many of our kids are familiar with Orange Theory because their parents do it,” Nordlund said. “We try to relate the value of this to the kids. Their parents spend thousands of dollars a year going to health clubs and classes and working out, and you are getting it for free in your school day. We are doing what your parents do.”
Maybe not a full Orange Theory workout, but Nordlund often starts class with a tabata warmup. She offers yoga, aerobic walking and any other activity she thinks will get her students active.
And she relates all of it back to heart rate and the IHT ZONE her students wear.
“A lot of our kids have Apple watches, so we ask them why do they think that’s so popular, other than texting your mom from your watch during the day?” Nordlund said. “It’s the feedback. You want to meet your goals and see that confirmation. They are learning what to do when the motivation has to come from within them when they don’t have a teacher or a coach telling them they need to get going.”