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Technology Improving Fitness, Academics

November 01, 2017
By Deb Daley

Mercy High School understands that physical fitness not only is a key to a student’s healthy body, it can also improve academic performance. Using the latest in technology, the school has embarked on an effort to improve health-related fitness by monitoring heart rate. The program uses Interactive Health Technologies (IHT) Adidas Zone heart rate monitors generously donated by Blue Cross and Blue Shield. The Adidas Zone Monitors are used ensure that students are spending adequate time in their target heart rate zones when participating in Physical Education classes.

“I attended the Nebraska Society for Health and Physical Educators (SHAPE) conference last fall. I was able to participate in workshops that detailed the new national and state physical education standards, as well as how incorporating new technologies in the curriculum could help students to achieve the standards and improve outcomes. I knew if we could find the resources to purchase the technology, we could implement a program at our school, “said Chris Dunn, Health/ Physical Education Teacher.

She worked with Jim Pogge, Vice President of Advancement to identify a possible donor for the equipment. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska, a lead provider of health insurance and supporter of health-related fitness, was pleased to step in.

“Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska seeks to support innovative, effective programs in health and wellness and education,” said Marjorie Maas, director of corporate social responsibility for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska. “The use of these heart rate monitors alongside Mercy’s physical education curriculum is unique, and we believe it’ll help students better understand their bodies and how to get and stay fit.”

How it Works:

Dunn has programmed key heart zones on individual student monitors based on optimum heart rates for various activities. As the student undertakes each activity, the wrist monitor lights up in colors based on heart rate zones: blue—indicates a low impact activity; yellow—indicates moderate cardiovascular activity which will improve aerobic fitness, stamina and endurance; red—indicates vigorous or anaerobic activity which improves sport performance, speed and power. The goal is to stay in each zone for a designated percentage of the class period depending on that day’s activity.

The benefits of developing the cardiovascular system are well documented. Not only is there less risk of developing lifestyle-related diseases and conditions, but also a healthy cardiovascular system improves daily energy, endurance, aerobic capacity, muscular speed, and even mental function as students are more focused and alert.

Dunn is able to track each student’s progress and map entire classes data and trends.

Next, she is working with Paul Tschudin, Technology Director, to have the students create apps using the health data from the IHT Adidas Zone Monitors to solve real-world problems.

“This technology increases students’ engagement and enjoyment. They can truly improve health outcomes and increase academic achievement,” Dunn added.