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

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

    LACHINE, QC, May 19 /CNW/ - 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
    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.(xx)
    "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:

    (xx) Canada's Physical Activity Guide: Family Guide to Physical Activity
         for Children
         Public Health Agency of Canada

For further information:

For further information: Jennifer Meneses, Carolyn Abbass, Paradigm
Public Relations, (416) 203-2223, jmeneses@paradigmpr.ca,

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