As health and physical educators, we face a generation of learners who are captivated by technology. How do we expand our teaching methods to capitalize on this interest? The answer is to use technology to hold their attention while enhancing their self-knowledge and influencing their behavior.

With the current flood of health and fitness information on the market, educators are continually being asked to adopt new teaching methods. The strength of the program described in this book is that it constructively uses technology to enhance health and fitness. The one-size-fits-all teaching method no longer applies. Heart rate monitors enable students to individualize their fitness programs by providing immediate and ongoing assessment data.

Students and teachers alike can better manage what they can measure and monitor. Think about it. Many so-called failures in diet and exercise programs stem from the inability to accurately monitor the changes being sought. The classic example, of course, is starting a training program to tone and build muscle but using only the bathroom scale as the yardstick to measure success or failure. As most of us know, muscle mass weighs more than fat mass. Thus, even though we may be succeeding at our training program (i.e., our clothing is getting looser and our bodies feel stronger), our monitoring device, which registers only an undesired weight gain, tells us otherwise.

A heart rate monitor is quite simply the most powerful fitness and health tool on the market today. A wristwatch-sized piece of technological equipment, a heart rate monitor measures the electrical impulses of the heart. Because the data it emits are unique to the user, they can be helpful in adjusting a fitness program to achieve specific goals. In other words, the individuality of the data and the measurement accuracy result in a better-managed program.

A heart rate monitor is more than a speedometer worn on the wrist that tells you how fast your heart is beating. Rather, it is several devices packaged into a personal training tool. If you are new to using a monitor and software, get excited. What you are about to experience has the potential to change the way you teach and learn.

You may wonder why you should use heart rate monitors in your health and physical education classes. The answer is simple. A heart rate monitor is a biofeedback device that links the exercise to the body, enabling you to individualize your physical education program to your students.

Using a heart rate monitor, students can measure their hearts at work or at rest and continually note their hearts’ responses to most stimuli. This becomes a powerful motivator— yet another benefit of using heart rate monitors. Students can focus on their personal improvement rather than measure their performance against that of their peers or others who may be more physically fit.

The rest of this introduction presents the goals and principles that form the basis of the Heart Zones Education (HZE) program, and the heart zones training system for improving emotional, metabolic, and physical fitness using heart rate and training zones to design and achieve personal wellness goals. First, however, I offer a brief explanation of what we’ve dubbed heart zones, the central component of the HZE program. Because the purpose of this program is to develop an individualized approach to fitness development, HZE modules are progressive, moving students from their current fitness levels to where they want to be. In so doing, they help them reap the greatest possible rewards from their exercise time.

Students base their progressive exercise on percentages of their maximal heart rates. Groups, or clusters, of various percentage ranges form the boundaries of various heart zones. World-class athletes have used heart rate ranges for years to accomplish their fitness goals. With the use of heart rate monitors and the instructions in this book, you can apply the same principles in your classroom for students at all levels of fitness.

  1. Heart Zones Education (HZE) provides strategies for adapting technology for classroom use and, in the process, revitalizes the curriculum.
  2. HZE is integrative. It readily integrates with curriculums in mathematics, biology, computer science, health, physical education, and creative writing.
  3. HZE is relevant. It provides immediate, individualized feedback.
  4. HZE is flexible. It links with technology and allows students to quickly adapt their programs as they progress.
  5. HZE motivates. By guiding and providing a means to monitoring personal improvement, it motivates goal setting and, thus, success.
  6. HZE is comprehensive. It demonstrates the interdependence of emotional, mental, and physical health and, thus, provides an effective way to manage wellness.
  7. HZE is educational. It teaches health management by providing quantifiable biofeedback for assessing heart health and cardiovascular fitness.