Students in sixth through twelfth grade in Fond du Lac School District’s physical education (PE) classes learned this year that POLAR A360s aren’t a new kind of snowmobile, but a useful tool that helped them assess their exercise regimen. These devices, some of the latest tools in heart rate technology, help individuals gain specific real-time feedback regarding their exertion levels. The POLAR 360s, purchased with the 2016 Carol M. White PEP Grant funds for Fond du Lac’s Mindfully Active Community (MAC), allowed students to actually see if the effort that they were putting into their workouts were moving them towards a healthier exercise routine and, subsequently, a healthier lifestyle.
Brian Holzman, Theisen Middle School’s PE teacher, feels that the heart rate monitors promoted cardiorespiratory fitness by letting students exercise in their own target heart rate range. “I think one of the most useful features that the heart rate monitors have to offer is giving us concrete evidence of a student’s participation level and their overall effort. Sometimes it may appear that a student is not putting forth as much effort as the other students in the class, but their heart rate will tell us just the opposite.”
Data compiled throughout the 2017-18 school year is showing the value of this technology in the physical education setting. The percentage of students that scored in the Health Fitness Zone on the Cooper Clinic FitnessGram this spring rose in each Fond du Lac secondary school this year: Fond du Lac High School’s percentage increased 7 percent, Theisen’s figure grew by 11 percent, Woodworth’s rose by 15 percent, and Sabish’s increased by a full 20 percent.
Sabish Middle School’s climb from 39 to 59 percent of students in the Healthy Fitness Zone, has also been accompanied by an increase in motivation among students. Joanie Hammer, Sabish’s PE teacher attributes that fact to more self-awareness because of the POLAR A360. “Students are gaining a better personal understanding of what a health-enhancing level of exertion means,” Hammer states. “Instead of comparing their speed or strength to others by observing how fast or how much weight other classmates are lifting, they have a tool that is tailored to their own specific fitness level. Students are given the opportunity to forget about struggles in the past and can focus on putting in the proper effort and energy now without being discouraged by faster/stronger students. Many of these students are now on the leaderboard for the most minutes in the Health-Enhancing Zone!”
Fond du Lac High School
students learn how to operate the new heart rate monitors before their fitness