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Physical Education Students Experience High-Tech Heart Rate Monitoring
 First-Beat Web
Physical Education Teacher Education majors Daniel Mohsen '14 of Atlanta, GA and Jamie Chesser '13 of Baltimore, MD with the Firstbeat monitoring system.

With the use of a high-tech computer system, Limestone College Physical Education student-teachers are taking heart rate monitoring to the next level.

The Firstbeat Class Pack wireless computer system enables physical education teachers to monitor up to 40 students at any given time and can generate physiological reports of individuals or groups.

 Valued at $11,000, the system is on loan to Limestone from School Specialty's Sportime division through March 8 and is designed specifically for physical education teachers. Limestone is one of a select group of schools to have been selected to sample the equipment. After March 8, it will be transported to Charlotte for the National American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance annual convention.

As students wear belts around their abdomen while exercising, heart rate and intensity information is transmitted wirelessly to a laptop computer for real-time monitoring by the teacher. While numerous students can use the same belt throughout the school day, the belts will create and maintain data for individual and group profile reports.

According to Dr. Cindy Cavanaugh, Associate Professor of Physical Education at Limestone, Firstbeat represents the future of health monitoring for physical education teachers. "With Firstbeat, physical education teachers have a powerful tool that can help them more easily motivate their students by increasing awareness of fitness and health," she said. "In the realm of physical education, there historically have not been many ways to generate truly measurable data, but a system like Firstbeat changes all of that. With it, we can clearly show the student the importance of getting the heart rate to go up for a certain amount of time and how that affects their overall health."

Randy Olmstead of Sportime says there are reasons for school officials to be excited about Firstbeat as well. "The Firstbeat system provides teachers and school administrators with a level of accountability they perhaps have not had in physical education until now," he said. "The reports generated by Firstbeat provide incredibly accurate reports of the progress made by entire physical education classes. An added bonus of the system is that by real-time monitoring, potential health problems can be identified much easier. The reports, however, are not meant strictly for school officials; parents of the students can also receive the reports and see detailed health information about their child."

Even though the Firstbeat system will be utilized by Limestone for a limited time, Dr. Cavanaugh intends to share the technology with K-12 schools in Cherokee County. "The schools in Cherokee County have been so good to our student-teachers, and we definitely want them to experience what Firstbeat has to offer," she said