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Physical activity and nutrition education help students become healthy, active adults

This is an excerpt from Physical Activity and Nutrition for Health by Chris Hopper,Bruce Fisher & Kathy Munoz.

Lesson 11 - Body Beats


At the end of this lesson, each student will be able to do the following:

  • Understand that a heartbeat represents the pumping action of the heart.
  • Know the difference between resting and active pulse rates.

Connections to Health Education Standards

  • Practice of health-enhancing behaviors

Connections to Other Standards

  • Science standards: science in personal and social perspectives; life science
  • Physical education standards: appreciation for the value of physical activity

Connections to WOW! Lessons

  • Red level: lesson 7, "Heart Healthy"
  • Yellow level: lesson 7, "Heart Healthy"
  • Blue level: lesson 6, "Crazy Hoops"
  • Blue level: lesson 7, "Four Parts"

WOW! Vocabulary

  • body-The physical structure of a person. carotid artery-Artery in the neck that can be used to find a heart rate.
  • pulse points-Different places on the body to find a heart rate.
  • radial artery-Artery in the wrist area that can be used to find a heart rate.
  • resting heart rate-The number of times the heart beats in a period of time while the person is at rest (sitting down).

Get Ready to WOW! 'Em

You will need the following:

  • Stethoscope or paper towel tube
  • Turkey baster
  • Alcohol wipes (optional)
  • Figure 11.1, taking a pulse rate (one copy per student)
  • Family Activity 5 for section 1, The Beat Goes Home (one copy per student)
  • Two cups or containers, one with a small amount of water and one filled with water (optional)

Background Information

An important part of fitness development is monitoring the pulse rate. A person can do this by finding pulse points where arteries are close to the body surface. At these points, the person can feel the heart pushing blood through the body. The pulse rate is the number of times the heart beats each minute. This rate changes with activity levels. When people are calm and relaxed, their pulse is slower, and this is their resting heart rate. When people are active, scared, or excited, their heart rate accelerates and beats faster, increasing their pulse rate.

Heart rates will vary among students. Most elementary school students have a pulse rate of 75 to 95 beats per minute. Generally, a boy's pulse rate is lower than a girl's. A lower rate usually indicates a more effective cardiovascular system. Heart rates change with age, from 120 beats in infancy to about 70 beats per minute by the age of 18.

Now WOW! 'Em

1. Review the background information presented for this lesson with the class.

2. Demonstrate to students the location of the heart, slightly left of center in the chest area. Students can place their hand on their chest to try to detect a resting pulse rate. In many cases, the resting pulse rate will not be detected through the heart. After exercise, the beating pulse of the heart may be easier to locate in the chest.

3. To demonstrate the pumping action of the heart, use a turkey baster. Tell students, The heart is a muscle, and muscle contractions force blood out of the heart to the body. If students are unable to feel their heartbeat, you should have the students complete some exercises to raise their heart rate.

4. Tell students, You can open and close a hand until fatigue sets in to demonstrate the pumping action of the heart. Note that the heart keeps beating continuously, but opening and closing a hand results in fatigue. Therefore, the heart muscle must be very strong to keep working without stopping to rest.

5. Tell students, To find your pulse rate, place your index and middle fingers on your wrist (radial artery) or neck (carotid artery). Do not use the thumb. The pulse in your thumb may be strong enough to interfere with your count. Hold your fingers in place until you feel the steady beat of your pulse. (Show the students figure 11.1.) Pulse rates increase when you are active.

6. Have students complete some gentle stretching exercises (see "Stretching Routines" in the introduction to this book) for a few minutes and ask the students to find their pulse again. Ask students, Is your pulse slower by now?

7. Organize students into pairs of the same sex. Tell students, We can hear the pumping action of the heart by using a stethoscope or paper towel tube. Press the stethoscope or one end of the cardboard tube against your partner's chest. Put your ear up to the other end and listen to the constant rhythm. The sound "lub-dub" can be heard. Count the heart rate. Every lub-dub equals one beat. Girls and boys should have a heart rate of about 80 beats per minute.

Figure 11.1

Wrap It Up!

Ask students to check their pulse rates. Students should use a variety of methods to calculate the pulse rate, including counting for 6 seconds and multiplying by 10, or counting for 15, 30, 45, or 60 seconds.

Give each student a copy of Family Activity 5, The Beat Goes Home. This activity requires students to explain the concept of pulse rate to family members.

Teaching Notes

Each lesson has suggested modifications, whenever possible, to adapt the concepts to younger or older students.

Modifications for Younger Students

Younger students may need to complete some light to moderate activity to feel their heartbeat by placing their hand on their chest. Counting a pulse rate can be used to help develop basic mathematics skills.

Modifications for Older Students

Students can calculate their resting and active heart rates by counting their pulse for 6 seconds and multiplying by 10. As a check, ask them to count for 30 seconds and multiply by 2. Use other combinations to help students practice mathematics skills, such as counting for 10, 15, 20, and 30 seconds and using the correct multiplier.

Concept Development

1. Explain to students that a higher pulse rate represents an increase in the amount of blood being pumped by the heart. Use two cups to illustrate the volume of blood being pumped. One cup has just a little water in it (volume at rest), and the other cup is filled full of water (volume during exercise). Explain that during exercise, the amount of blood being pumped increases.

2. Ask students to create a list of sport and physical activities. Encourage students to select activities that are vigorous and will provide 20 minutes of continuous activity. Discuss how some activities may be fun and enjoyable but may not include much physical activity. Discuss ways to increase levels of physical activity in favorite sports and games. For one example, see lesson 21, "Aerobic Kickball" (page 142).

3. Use a model heart or an illustration to show students the structure of the heart. Invite the school nurse into the classroom to demonstrate the use of a stethoscope. Use alcohol wipes to clean ear pieces after each use.

4. Students can then use their heart rate to calculate how many times their heart beats for various time intervals, such as an hour, a day, a week, a month, and a year.

5. Consider with your students the benefit of a well-conditioned heart. Calculate the difference between an individual with 50 beats per minute and a person with 80 beats per minute. The well-conditioned heart beats less often to perform the same task and to pump the same amount of blood to the body.

Assessment Options

Each lesson includes assessment options for the lesson and may include additional assessment options for the skills performed within a lesson.

For the Lesson

Students will demonstrate their ability to find a pulse and to take their heart rates at different times during the day.

Learn more about Physical Activity and Nutrition for Health.

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