High-tech gym class: East High brings physical education into 21st century

The padding behind the basketball hoops is seen March 7, 2018, at East High School in Bakersfield, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX photo)

While classrooms all across America become more infused with technology an unlikely Bakersfield class in getting a dose of technology.

At East Bakersfield High School, the physical education program is thrusting itself into the 21st century with the integration of fitness tracking bracelets.

Students wear the Polar brand bracelets throughout their gym class. The devices track their heart rate, burned calories, time of activity and more.

All that data goes straight to a tablet in the hands of the teacher. The teacher is then able to use that data to determine if any students need to push harder or pick up the pace.

Kristine Jacobson, the chairperson of the East High Physical Education Department, said the devices are already paying dividends.

"It's almost like it's black and white and I can say with confidence that, 'Hey, you're not working hard,' or, 'Hey, you're working really hard,'" said Jacobson.

Basically, kids who are more physically fit can endure more of a workout without showing or feeling it and might not be benefiting from it.

The bracelets use unbiased data, which teachers then use to customize workout intensity for individual students.

The tablet stores the data and can be used to track student progress over time.

According to Jacobson, the benefits of this program go beyond fitness.

"When kids really are in their zone for 30 to 60 minutes a day, it makes a difference all across their entire life," said Jacobson.

More bracelets like these could soon be finding their way into other Kern High School District gymnasiums.

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