Heart Rate Zone Viewer Middle School

Introducing The Heart Rate Zone Viewer

Last week, I saw an awesome graphic on Twitter that was created by Collin Brooks.

Collin, in his usual creative beast fashion, animated lungs working at different intensities and placed them on a Rating of Perceived Exertion (RPE) chart. Check it out:

I had been trying to make something for a while to solve a challenge I was having in my teaching, but couldn’t get the design right. When I saw Collin’s post, something clicked and I got to work (thanks for the inspiration, Collin!)

Before I show you what I made, let me give you some background on what was challenging me.

Grade Six Fitness Unit

Earlier this year, I introduce my Grade 6 students to the Borg Rating of Perceived Exertion as part of our Fitness unit. I did so to help them better understand heart rate zones and to help them reach SHAPE America Grade-Level Outcome  S3.M13.6:

SHAPE America Grade-Level Outcome S3.M15.6

To help them better understand the Borg Rating of Perceived Exertion Scale and its relationship to heart rate, I created the following visual for them (which you can download on the Visuals page):

Borg RPE Scale

The Challenge

Although the Borg RPE Scale visual was helpful, there was still an issue I kept facing: since we do not have heart rate monitors at my school (if anybody reading this would like to hook me up, please do!), my students were having a difficult time quickly calculating which heart rate zone they were working in after finding their rate rate.

I did try making over-elaborate assessment tools to help them figure out which zone they were in by baking into the assessment pieces we used (this was created based on the fact that most of my grade 6 students were 11 at the time):

Grade 6 Heart Rate Zones

However, I still wasn’t satisfied. I wanted something simpler, more memorable and as visually appealing as possible. It was until I saw Collin’s post that I finally figured it out:

The Solution: The Heart Rate Zone Viewer

Running with the idea of an overview of lungs working at different levels of exertion, I decided I wanted to create the same but for heart rates. Also, I wanted to have the calculations baked into the resource to simplify the task for the students. However, I also wanted to make sure that the resource would remind students how to make those calculations so that they understand how maximum heart rate can be quickly estimated and then used to determine heart rate zones.

After toying around with some video creations and animations, I finally put together the Heart Rate Zone Viewer.

Heart Rate Zone Viewer - Title Page

The Heart Rate Zone Viewer is a PDF document with interactive buttons that link to different video animations. All that you need to use it is an Internet connection, a PDF viewer (e.g. Adobe Acrobat, Preview, iBooks… pretty much every device has a PDF viewer pre-installed on it) and access to YouTube.

Students can use the viewer to see Heart Rate Zones specific to their age.

Heart Rate Zone Viewer - Age Selector

For each age level, I create three different animations to help students better understand heart rate and the heart rate zones: an animation showing how maximum heart rate is calculated, an animation of the heart rate for each heart rate zone, and, finally, an overview animation showing all of the heart rate zones for the selected age at once.

Heart Rate Zone Viewer - View Options

The second option (Heart Rate Zone Selector) take you to another menu from which you can select to see a specific heart rate zone being animated.

Heart Rate Zone Viewer - Heart Rate Zones Menu

Ready to see this all in action (with the animated heart rate zones)? Check out the video walkthrough below:

For now, I’ve only created a Heart Rate Zone Viewer for middle school-aged students (i.e. 11-14 years old). That said, I’m already thinking of creating viewers for elementary and high school-aged students once all of the #SHAPEBoston craziness calms down. For now, you can use the button below to download your own Heart Rate Zone Viewer for middle school.
Download Heart Rate Zone ViewerI want to say a huge thank you to Collin for inspiring me to create this. Also, Collin and I have already been in contact in regards to creating an even more awesome resource when the #SHAPEBoston dust settles. We came up with an early draft the other night and I think it will be epic!

Thanks so much for reading and happy teaching!


Joey Feith is the founder of ThePhysicalEducator.com. Having taught elementary physical education for 10 years, Joey is now focused on helping physical educators grow their confidence and competence as teachers.