One of the first things you might realize is that the heart rate monitor provides a link between the body and mind. No more guessing at exercise intensity. No more stopping in the middle of an aerobic session to search desperately for a pulse, hoping to get a reasonably close count before your heart rate starts to plummet (manual palpation). The following steps will help you get started using a heart rate monitor.

1.Strap it on and get it working.

Do you remember your first experience with a digital wristwatch, programming a personal digital assistant, or learning a new software program? This is going to be easier. To start, just put on the wrist monitor (receiver), fasten the transmitter to the elastic chest strap, and put it on. Then make sure a heart rate number is displayed on the monitor. If you experience problems getting a heart rate display, refer to the instruction manual that came with the monitor.

The flashing icon is your heart actually beating. It should beat rhythmically without hesitation or irregularity. A heart rate monitor is not intended to serve as an indicator of an irregular or abnormal cardiovascular condition, but it may do that as well.

2. Learn how to program your monitor.

Monitors all work differently. Depending on the model, some of the functions include memory, backlighting, stopwatch, time of day, training zones, out-of-heart-zone alarms, multiple zone settings, and countdown timers. Generally, the more features there are, the more expensive the monitor will be and the less relevant it may be for school use. Learn the various functions of your monitor.

3. Defer judgment.

Before you introduce this heart rate technology to students, become an expert in its use. As soon as your monitors arrive, strap one on and wear it around the clock; experience all of the nuances of seeing your heart rate response to your everyday activities. This will familiarize you with the monitor so you can teach your students about it. At this point, it is important to accept the monitor reading without opinion. Your monitor is a management tool, not a speedometer. Within the first 40 hours, you will begin to feel comfortable wearing it and will probably learn a lot about how your heart responds to your daily activities. Then you can begin to learn how to use it as a feedback monitor by noticing your heart rate in certain situations, particularly stressful ones, and begin to rely on this information to make some lifestyle decisions.

To teach students how to get fit using a heart rate monitor, you must become familiar with its features and functions. Getting to know it may not be easy at first. Regardless of your initial comfort level, however, know that the information it is providing you, data about your cardiac muscle, is accurate and can be used in ways to help you get healthier.

4. Work out.

Perform several of your favorite workouts wearing your monitor. Observe the numbers and get comfortable with the information you see.

5. Learn to use it fully.

Now that you have some experience with a heart rate monitor, start to learn more about it. Discuss the monitor, the HZE program, and individual training programs with other health and physical education teachers. Attend training sessions, or sponsor one for yourself and the other teachers at your school. Many books on the market address the application of this technology, including for stress reduction, athletic club programs, cardiac rehabilitation, weight management, athletic performance training, and even training racehorses.