The Future of Physical Education
According to the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health
Promotion, “The prevalence of obesity among children aged 6 to 11 more than doubled in
the past 20 years, going from 6.5% in 1980 to 17.0% in 2006. The rate among
adolescents aged 12 to 19 more than tripled, increasing from 5% to 17.6%. Obesity is the
result of caloric imbalance (too few calories expended for the amount of calories
consumed) and is mediated by genetics and health.” In order to help prevent childhood
obesity, implementation of heart rate monitors in physical education would enhance
knowledge and motivate students to develop a more personalized exercise regimen.
Physical education is a course that is dedicated to promoting lifelong physical activity.
By introducing heart rate monitors to students at the high school level, the emphasis is on
student’s individual progress based on the his heart rate zone. Increased understanding of
one’s heart rate zone will perpetuate into a lifelong awareness of physical fitness. The
use of a heart rate monitor will prove to be an ongoing effective tool to decrease
emphasis on the task and increase emphasis on the success of a more productive workout.
PROBLEM OF PRACTICE
In physical education classes, it is essential to restructure the program in order to
meet the fitness needs of each student as an individual. By incorporating heart rate
monitors, students will train within their target heart rate zone. Therefore by using the
Karvonen method, a mathematical formula used to determine their target heart rate zone,
students will be able to monitor their exercise while staying within this range.
“The concept is to teach kids to find and stay in their heart- rate zone.
(The formula for maximum heart rate is 220 minus your age, so a 15-year-old has a
maximum heart rate of 205 beats per minute. In class, the target heart-rate ranges from 60
percent to 80 percent of that maximum, or about 123 to 164 beats per minute.)
Staying in your target heart rate for at least 20 minutes means a better fat-burning,
cardiovascular workout” (Wheeler, 2006, pg1).
Using heart rate monitors to help students stay within their target heart rate range, a more
effective workout will result. This use of heart rate monitors will benefit the varying
athletic abilities found in today’s physical education classrooms. With the
implementation of heart rate monitors, students would be measured and assessed in a way
that guarantees individualized improvement. A more accurate assessment, giving
students immediate feedback, is beneficial in order to meet individualized fitness goals.
The use of heart rate monitors is both motivational and healthy.
‘“I think everyone has recognized the dangers of sedentary living and a greater awareness
of kids needing to be active,’ Wilson- Graham said. At Antelope Crossing, the heart-rate
monitors encourage the school's sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade students to stay active -
- and in their heart-rate zone -- during PE class. Monitors strapped around students'
chests wirelessly transmit data to a wristwatch receiver, which displays the heart rate and
beeps when it is too fast or too slow. At the end of the class, students either record their
heart rates on individual charts or beam the data to a teacher's handheld PC. Students get
printouts of their progress, which are included in report cards and information sent home
to parents” (Lofing, 2007, pg1).
Heart rate monitors are an asset in combating childhood obesity rates while promoting
awareness of heart rate levels. Measuring the success of each individual by ensuring they
are focused, staying within their range, and attaining a better cardiovascular workout will
enable students to lead a healthy lifestyle and workout within their cardiovascular zone.
Measuring student success by collecting data would indicate, to the instructor as
well as the student, if he or she is within their target heart rate range, or if any
modifications should be put in place. Using heart rate monitors would indicate whether
students are giving their personal best as it pertains to their body. A measurement of
student success would be immediate. The instructor, as well as the watch itself, would
give feedback to the student. The wrist watch receiver would indicate to the student
whether they were within their zone. The monitor will beep if the student’s heart rate is
too fast or too slow (as it pertains to their target heart rate zone). The physical educator
would then give feedback to the student, expressing what he needs do in order to stay
within his target heart range.
“‘Instead of ' You need to do eight laps,' it's 'You need to stay in your zone,' said Medina
High School physical education teacher Bill Turner. ‘If you stay in your zone, you get
your A.’ In the past, teachers could only go by what they saw. Is the kid at the back of
the pack even trying? ‘Now we know,’ said Turner's colleague, Chris Hassinger. ‘We
know how hard the kid is working now” (Wheeler, 2006, pg 1).
Teachers, like Bill Turner, can give constructive feedback to students as to how to stay in
their heart rate zone. Without the use of heart rate monitors, the task of helping each
student reach their fullest potential is difficult. It is challenging to monitor student
progress and effort without the use of heart rate monitors, as teachers can only go by
what they observe. Not only does this benefit student fitness goals it enables them to
work harder and is a more reliable means of assessment.
There are several components necessary in order to guarantee the success of the
implementation of heart rate training. As a physical educator, I would be in charge of
contacting the appropriate personnel to request the application of heart rate monitors for
my program. I would also be responsible for securing funds to enable each student to
obtain a heart rate monitor for personal use in my class. Through the support of the
physical education department as well as administration, purchasing monitors for student
use would be made possible.
The learners in my program are students enrolled in grades nine through twelve
and are currently taking a physical education course (personal fitness, body conditioning,
body toning, team sports, and swimming techniques). Their athletic abilities vary, as do
their body types. Each student’s academic ability varies from those who have special
needs considerations to others who are academically superior.
In order to promote a better understanding of the heart rate monitor and its
benefits, students will be given opportunities to familiarize themselves with the monitor,
so as to correctly use the device and observe their heart rates. Once students become
familiar with the heart rate monitor, they will then perform the tasks necessary to keep
them in their zone. Once students are in their respective ranges, a more beneficial
workout will take place.
The physical education environment varies from class to class. Opportunities to
utilize heart rate training are in the gymnasium, fitness center, in the pool, or outdoors.
Depending on the structure of each course offered would determine where and when the
heart rate monitors will be used.
TECHNOLOGY –INTERGRATED SOLUTION
With the increase in childhood obesity and sedentary lifestyles, implementation of
heart rate monitors in the physical education setting would prove to be purposeful. Heart
rate monitors would serve as a motivator for students, application of problem solving
strategies, as well as an assessment tool. Students will be able to evaluate their progress
and as a physical educator, I can assess each of my students in a more objective manner.
Strategy teaching and goal-oriented assessment are two of the twelve principles outlined
by Jere Brophy, a University Distinguished Professor of teacher education and
educational psychology. Brophy has outlined principles of teaching that directly
correlate to the implementation of heart rate monitors. With the heart rate monitor
integration comes utilization of problem solving strategies for students. Students will
have to problem solve strategies in order to stay within their target heart rate zone. The
activity required for one student to stay in their zone might not resemble the activity that
would enable another student to reach the same goal. As stated by Brophy,
“General learning and study skills as well as domain-specific skills (such as constructing
meaning from text, solving mathematical problems or reasoning scientifically) are most
likely to be learned thoroughly and become accessible for application if they are taught as
strategies to be brought to bear purposefully….” (Brophy, 1999, pg 25)
With the application of heart rate monitors, a purposeful innovation, students will have to
learn more about their bodies and heart rate levels in order to stay within their target
range. Brophy also expressed that
“A well developed curriculum includes strong and functional assessment components.
These assessment components are aligned with the curriculum’s goals, and so they are
integrated with its content, instructional methods, learning activities, and designed to
evaluate progress towards its major intended outcomes” (Brophy, 1999, pg 29).
What better functional assessment than the use of a monitors strapped around students'
chests wirelessly that is able to transmit data to a wristwatch receiver, which displays the
student’s heart rate? Immediate feedback correlates with the goal of staying within one’s
heart rate zone as well as improving their fitness. Motivation through heart rate monitors
will not only increase fitness levels as well as introduce a piece of technology that can be
used to promote lifelong physical activity, it also promotes strategy teaching and goal-
The implementation of this piece of technology will give students a more accurate
measurement of their heart rate while it reminds them to stay within their range. In turn,
this improves each student’s fitness level by making sure each student’s heart rate is not
above or below his or her target zone. In other words, if the student is not reaching their
target heart rate he or she will need to work harder in order to increase or decrease their
beats per minute.
BENEFITS OF THE SOLUTION
Studies conducted at various schools across the nation have produced results
worthy of recognition. Medina High School has successfully taken physical education to
the next level. Bill Turner, Medina High School physical education teacher, has proven
heart rate monitor implementation a beneficial.
“The results -- which make up about 30 percent of the students' grades -- are right there
on the watch, as well as the computer screen on Turner's desk. A few clicks of the mouse
and Turner pulled up one freshman boy's results, showing that he was in his zone for 14
minutes during a recent class and out of his zone for six minutes” (Wheeler, 2006, pg 1)
Mr. Turner was given immediate feedback on his student and could then objectively
assess his progress. It was stated by Kert Boedicker, principal,
"It's not competing against the other kids, it's competing against yourself. What a healthy
perspective for these students to learn: If I can (stay in this zone), I can be physically fit.
With this device, it's right there in front of them" (Wheeler, 2006, pg1)
With the implementation of heart rate monitors, the focus is on self-improvement rather
than competition against other students. With the use of the monitors, each student is
competing against himself or herself, striving for self-improvement.
Another school that has seen improvements with the heart rate monitor innovation
was Antelope Crossing.
“Meghan Jinguji, a PE teacher at Antelope Crossing, said she has seen ‘huge
improvements in mile times’ as a result of the heart- rate monitors. ‘It's really increased
the children's awareness of their bodies,’ she said” (Lofing, 2007, pg 1).
It was also expressed that with the increased awareness of physical activity students have
been more motivated to stay active. One student was quoted by saying "It helps me keep
going the whole time," she said. "It's a really good pacer” (Lofing, 2007, pg1). Heart
rate monitors are a fun motivational piece of technology that allow students to receive
immediate feedback about their fitness levels. As proven by Medina High School and
Antelope Crossing, heart rate monitors are a beneficial piece of technology to incorporate
into the physical education setting.
From researching the topic of heart rate monitors I have come to realize how
imperative it is to incorporate heart rate monitors into my pedagogy. Not only does this
piece of technology prove to motivate students, it is tied to a goal-oriented assessment as
well as allows students to utilize problem solving strategies. The days of measuring
effort in physical education classes by being first to the finish line are no longer. All of
our students enter the gymnasium with an array of innate physical prowess. Effort can
now be determined by the student’s ability to stay in his zone. Student success is
measured by self- improvement and self-competition. With the implementation of heart
rate monitors, it is a reality that all students strive for their personal best by acquiring the
information that will help keep them in their zone and propel them to a healthful future.
There is no doubt that every student will enjoy physical education classes more while
learning that everyone has what it takes to be a fine athlete.
Brophy, J, (1999) Teaching. International Academy of Education and International
Bureau of Education. Educational Practices Series-1.
New pulse of PE: Heart-rate monitors motivate kids for exercise at school
Niesha Lofing. Knight Ridder Tribune Business News. Washington:May 9, 2007. p. 1
Physical fitness stays in the zone: Medina High School uses heart- rate monitors to
measure and grade progress in gym classes
Tracy Wheeler. Knight Ridder Tribune Business News. Washington:Dec 5, 2006. p. 1