Sunday, January 4, 2009

Using Technology in Physical Education

Over the holidays, I was speaking with a friend about heart rate monitors. He is a businessman who works for a local computer company. He also teaches "spinning" at a local recreation center a few times a week. We started chatting about his using heart rate monitors during his classes which of course made me happy. When he started teaching several years ago, I mentioned that it would be great to have all of the people in his class use a heart rate monitor to assess their individual performances during the class. After giving him some basic information about heart rate monitors and several suggestions about what types/ models he should get, he went out and bought several to try with clients. He now requires that all of the "spinners" in his classes wear a heart rate monitor while he teaches a class. The rec. center has purchased several that people can borrow if they have forgotten their own or are new to the class. He mentioned that his regulars have all purchased their own heart rate monitors and really love using them. I am so impressed by what my friend, Scott, has done. He has gotten the rec. center to buy into the importance of using heart rate monitors to improve fitness and he has gotten many people interested in keeping track of their own fitness level using a heart rate monitor. What was really interesting is that Scott mentioned how surprised he is how many people had never really heard of or used a heart rate monitor prior to being a part of his class. This, of course, got me thinking.

How many physical education programs across the country are teaching students how to use technology tools like pedometers and heart rate monitors to keep track of their fitness levels? If not using pedometers and/or heart rate monitors, what is the reason? As a physical educator, isn't it our responsibility provide students with a knowledge of how to stay fit and healthy for a lifetime? Why are there physical education programs who are not teaching students how to use these important technology tools to assess fitness, amount of activity, and performance? It would be like teaching math without teaching students how to properly use a calculator or teaching science without teaching students how to use the Bunsen Burner or a microscope.

I teach elementary physical education and in first grade we introduce the concept of heart rate. In third grade, we introduce and use pedometers throughout the year. And, in fifth grade we teach students how to use a heart rate monitor, let students use them, and discuss why they are important. Although the exposure to these tools is somewhat limited due to the age of the students and the amount of time we have them, I think introducing these items is critical. It is sad that more programs (including athletic programs) don't take advantage of these technology tools to help students train more efficiently.

There are many great lessons on heart rate monitors and pedometers that can be found on

Chad Triolet

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