Fewer than half of high school students meet the federal standards for physical activity (60 minutes of physical activity daily). U.S. schools may soon be testing a new fitness tracker from Adidas in K-12 gym classes to support physical education, and encourage kids to get and stay active.
Regular physical activity in childhood and adolescence helps improve strength and endurance, build healthy bones and muscles, and reduces anxiety and stress while increasing self-esteem. A study sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation found that a large number of parents of children in grades K-12 are concerned about inadequate levels of physical education in public schools. 25% of parents reported that their child’s school gives too little emphasis to physical education.
By creating a fitness band that tracks heart rate from any activity in P.E. class, Adidas hopes to change the way fitness is measured. Rather than using a one-size-fits-all technique, the Zone tracker makes physical activity more personalized to individual students. The tracker allows teachers to track a student’s performance and set goals based on his/her personal fitness level. All the data collected is sent via the cloud to a software portal, so the teacher can see how a student is progressing.
Adidas partnered with the tech fitness startup, Interactive Health Technologies, to develop the device. IHT already has an existing “Spirit Challenge” program to encourage students to stay active by offering incentives such as Adidas equipment and apparel, funding and scholarships. This program saw a 140% increase in student engagement in gym class among program participants.
Stacey Burr, VP and General Manager of Adidas Digital Sports said,
“In working with IHT, we found a partner that shared our vision of inspiring the next generation to lead healthy lives by making sport and fitness a life-long pursuit. We’re firm believers that healthy habits are easier to keep the earlier you start, so introducing tools and resources at the school-level offered the perfect place to lay such an important foundation.”
Below is an introductory video to the Zone tracker and its benefits.
So what are the implications of using a fitness tracker in P.E. classes?
With such a large number of students, the Zone tracker allows teachers to manage different classes and hundreds of students on the platform. Each student will have their own profile and data tracked, allowing teachers to be able to recognize students that might be struggling. It is possible that parents might be able to gain access to this information, which could help them better understand what goes on at school.
A class package of 28 trackers costs $3,995, so it not exactly something that is affordable by all public schools. While they are costly, only one set of trackers is needed, since the next students can use them after the information is sent to the teacher. But with limited funding, nearly half of school administrators have cut down on physical education to focus more on academic subjects. This technology has the power to help motivate students to get active, but its success is dependent upon schools realizing the importance of physical activity by dedicating more funds.
Brands such as Fitbit, Garmin, Jawbone, and Nike are the current leaders by market share in the fitness tracker industry, so it is interesting that Adidas is entering the market by targeting students. The value of the wearable tech industry is expected to reach $19B by 2018, and is mostly used in North America.
Fitness trackers are tools to help motivate people to reach their health goals. Developing healthy habits at a young age translates into healthy behavior in adulthood. It is possible that using fitness trackers in K-12 could put too much pressure on the students if used the wrong way. Especially with the younger grades, it is important to stress that it is merely just a tool to increase engagement and make kids want to participate in being active. Ultimately, educating students about the importance of physical activity is the end goal. Whether students in P.E. classes prefer to jump rope or play kickball, the important thing is that they are being active and getting their heart rate up. Adidas’ Zone tracker seems like a good step in accomplishing this goal.
What are your opinions on using this kind of technology in gym classes?