Interested in learning more about Heart Rate Training? Want to learn some of the basics of how to use heart rate monitors effectively for training and feedback? Check out this Ch.1 excerpt from Sally Edwards’ upcoming book Smart PE – Using Heart Rate Sensors and Activity Trackers for Physical Education! Read more….
Chapter One – ZONING and the Heart
The heart is a muscle that, in an adult, is about the size of a fist. Its job is to pump blood, and it does this without stopping, pumping approximately 6,300 gallons of blood a day through more than 96,000 miles of blood vessels. A heartbeat is one contraction of the heart, which we measure as “beats per minute” or “BPM”.
There are multiple things that can effect heart rate, including physical, emotional, and metabolic stress. The goal of the Smart PE curriculum is to create mindful student awareness of these stressors and their effects on heart rate.
Hearts contract with rhythm. When they don’t , things go very wrong very quickly. The rhythm of contractions is regulated by the sinoatrial node (“SA”) in the upper right side of the heart. The SA node, also known as the pacemaker, responds to regulating messages from the brain (“More blood” or “less blood”, in short) by sending electrical impulses to another node — the atrial ventricular (“AV”) node. Heart rate monitors track that electrical activity.
As fitness improves, the heart’s efficiency improves. It responds to stressors more quickly, and pumps more blood. It can also relax more quickly, too. Heart rate monitors provide teachers, parents, and students the means to see these improvements over time. With Smart PE, teachers can chart these changes and grade students as individuals, giving each student truly personal feedback on their efforts.
Heart rate monitors make implementing Smart PE easier, but students can also take their pulse manually. Please be aware, though, that there is a difference between heart rate and pulse. Heart rate refers to the electrical impulses that cause the heart to beat. Pulse, on the other hand, measures the quickness or slowness of blood moving through the arteries. It’s a mechanical measurement, and human error can really hurt the accuracy of a reading (in one study, people averaged a 17 beat per minute difference between their pulse and heart rate). Despite these issues, knowing how and where to find a pulse is important. In Lesson 1.2, your students learn how to take their pulse by placing two fingers on their carotid artery.
Heart rates can vary tremendously among individuals. Resting heart rates (your heart rate taken when you first wake up) varies as much as 30 to 40 BPM between two people of the same height, weight, and age. They also vary between men and women, as the female heart is smaller and beats up to 5 to 7 BPM faster.
As most people get fitter, their resting heart rate decreases. But if a heart rate monitor indicates that an otherwise fit person’s heart rate is drifting upward over time,, that can actually help in detecting other stressors, including dehydration, anxiety, sleep deprivation, heat exhaustion, and caffeine over-stimulation. Bottom line: heart rate monitors can help people discover physical as well as emotional and metabolic stresses.
If you enjoyed this excerpt please be on the lookout for Sally’s book –Smart PE – Using Heart Rate Sensors and Activity Trackers for Physical Education by Sally Edwards and Deb Van Klein