New heart rate monitors mix technology and fitness
New heart rate monitors mix technology and fitness
Posted on 11/04/2016

Heart Rate MonitorsThe implementation of heart rate monitors in West St. Paul – Mendota Heights – Eagan Area schools is changing the way the Physical Education teacher’s approach class time and energizing students. At the start of this school year, District 197 provided sets of heart rate monitors to all schools (K-12) and Physical Education teachers received training on how to integrate them into lesson plans for their students. 

A heart rate monitor, called a “blink”, is worn on a student’s forearm during physical education class and provides immediate feedback about the student’s activity. This feedback includes: their current heart rate, the overall amount of time recorded in each of three zones (light, moderate, vigorous), the number of calories burned and more. The data from a student’s blink is then transmitted to the teacher’s iPad where it can be displayed live through a projector for students to see their progress, as they participate in activities. 

According to teachers, using heart rate monitors has created a unique atmosphere where students are self-motivated to push themselves actively, and set personal goals for their fitness. 

“Students are self-monitoring their effort level for class,” said Friendly Hills Physical Education teacher Caryn Stremler-Birr. “We see students regularly look at their live data and adjust their activity level based on what they see. They are excited to see at the end of class that they met the goal of being in the yellow/red (moderate to high activity) zone for 30+ minutes. Students move more during class when they might otherwise be less active.” 

Somerset StudentsIn the past, Physical Education teachers have had to consistently play the role of motivator, constantly pushing students to be more active in class. Now heart rate monitors provide students a way to monitor their own activity levels. This allows teachers to focus more time on growing individual skills and team building strategies. 

 “I’ve become much more aware of the kids being active,” said Somerset Physical Education teacher Tracy Westman. “My lessons have changed in how I seek opportunities to keep students moving. There is less talking on my part and more streamlining lessons to keep their heart rates up.”

Both Stremler-Birr and Westman said their use of the heart rate monitors and the features of the accompanying software will only increase in the future. 

“With the reports that can be generated and given to students, they will be able to analyze their own heart rate data in various ways to strengthen the connection between their level of effort and their fitness level. We’re really excited to get that stage,” said Stremler-Birr.

Training for teachers on use of the heart rate monitors was funded, in part, by Dakota County and the Minnesota Statewide Health Improvement Program (SHIP).