Want Canadian kids to be more active? It’s a matter of heart

Want Canadian kids to be more active? It’s a matter of heart

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– Hamilton school proves it is possible to dramatically improve fitness levels with the use of heart rate monitors –

Lachine, QC, May 19, 2009 – Imagine if kids weren’t concerned about getting out of gym class, but instead with what they can get out of gym class? With increasing inactivity among Canadian children being one of the leading causes of childhood obesity*, it is more important than ever to inspire kids to get moving. But how do you motivate kids to get off the couch? As one extraordinary phys-ed teacher and his class demonstrated, it is all a matter of heart.

Former CFL player Mark Verbeek, a teacher at Gatestone Elementary in Hamilton, Ontario, has implemented a phys-ed program that has resulted in better participation from students, higher attendance rates and increased participation in extra-curricular sports. His program focuses on motivating students to be more active by having them understand their body and their potential, particularly by monitoring their heart rate.

“The use of heart rate monitors levels the playing field for students because they are evaluated on their individual performance, not on how they rank in the class,” says Mark Verbeek, fitness and wellness teacher/coordinator, Gatestone Elementary School. “Heart rate monitors motivate my students to perform to the best of their ability and keep them focused on achievement.”

Verbeek found that this new program eliminated one of the biggest barriers to gym class participation – the feeling that physically-average or below-average students cannot do well compared to naturally-gifted athletes. Creating a program that focuses on individual performance has shown every student that they do have potential, that they can improve and that they can set and achieve fitness goals.

“The results have been overwhelming,” says Verbeek. “I highly encourage every Canadian school to adopt this system if they truly care about the health and well-being of their students.”

Heart rate monitors help Verbeek to determine a student’s fitness level and then set achievable performance goals designed to motivate students to participate in school activity. A heart rate monitor is a receiver, worn like a wristwatch that gathers signals sent wirelessly from a comfortable transmitter strap worn around the chest. Heart rate is the most accurate measurement of a person’s intensity or exertion level. Each person has a different heart rate zone to exercise in for maximum effect, depending on such factors as age, gender and lifestyle.

Working with the Hamilton Wentworth School Board, staff, parents and the surrounding community, Verbeek designed a program to engage, motivate and encourage an active healthy lifestyle among his students. Verbeek’s program stresses the importance of physical fitness on overall education and challenges students to be healthier by incorporating the technology of Polar heart rate monitors and fitness assessment tools in phys-ed class.

“The program works for three reasons,” explains Verbeek. “First, it places value on individual physical performance, second, it tracks students’ physical progress and third, the program involves the students, staff, parents and community—a truly comprehensive approach designed to build and sustain good habits, not only for the participating students but for all of those involved.

According to the Canadian Fitness and Lifestyle Research Institute, three out of five Canadian children and youth (aged 5-17) are not active enough for optimal growth and development, and more than 80% of students are spending less than an hour a day on physical activity in school.**

“Polar is helping Canadian phys-ed teachers address the serious problem of children’s inactivity by providing a tool for measuring exertion levels,” says Brigitte Boucher-Sills, Marketing Director, Polar Electro Canada. “Mark Verbeek has done an amazing job at Gatestone and this program is now being expanded to other Hamilton-Wentworth schools. At Polar we have the resources and know-how available to implement this program in other school systems across Canada. We encourage phys-ed teachers and school boards to contact us to discuss how they can help improve the physical fitness of their students.”

About Polar Electro Canada’s E Series Heart Rate Monitors:
Polar’s E Series heart rate monitors are simple enough to use with children, yet sophisticated enough to collect crucial exercise data. Developed specifically for phys-ed with extensive feedback from physical educators, E Series heart rate monitors allow teachers to objectively assess student and class performance while safely motivating students with instant feedback on a daily basis. Heart rate monitors provide teachers with a reliable way to ensure that all students are exercising at the right intensity because time spent in the target heart rate zone is recorded. Incorporating heart rate monitors into phys-ed programs enables teachers to get all students involved, regardless of athletic ability.

The Polar technology offering includes a “TriFIT” Health Assessment which allows teachers to perform complete health and fitness assessments on individual and groups of students. As well, teachers have access to the “PE Manager” software which is a comprehensive data collection and grading tool designed specifically for PE.

About Polar Electro Canada
Polar Electro Canada Inc. provides innovative, personal technology solutions that help improve people’s quality of life through physical activity. Headquartered in Lachine, Quebec, Polar Electro Canada is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Finland-based Polar Electro OY, which invented the first ECG accurate wireless heart rate monitor, under the Polar name in 1977 as a training tool for the Finnish National Cross-Country Ski Team.

*International Journal of Obesity: http://www.nature.com/ijo/journal/v27/n9/full/0802376a.html

** Canada’s Physical Activity Guide: Family Guide to Physical Activity for Children
Public Health Agency of Canada
http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/pau-uap/paguide/child_youth/index.html

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For more information please contact Paradigm Public Relations 416-203-2223