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Heart Monitors In Middle School Gym Class? 950

Posted by kdawson
from the please-don't-sue-me dept.
An anonymous reader writes "My son brought home an order form from his middle school. Apparently the 7th (his grade) and 8th graders are being asked (required?) to purchase their own straps for the heart monitors they're to wear during gym class. I know nothing yet of the device in question, but have left a voice-mail with the assistant principal asking him to call me so I may ask some questions about the program and the device. My tinfoil-hat concern is that the heart rate data will be tied to each child, then archived and eventually used for/against them down the road when applying for insurance, high-stress jobs, etc. 'I see you had arrhythmia during 7th grade pickle ball? No insurance for you' Has anyone heard of such a program, or had their child(ren) take part in it? Does the device transmit to the laptop the overweight gym teacher will be watching instead of running laps with the kids? Perhaps data is downloaded from the device after the class? Or am I just being paranoid? Thanks for any insight."
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Heart Monitors In Middle School Gym Class?

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  • Holy shit? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Karganeth (1017580) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @05:18PM (#29431483)
    Are people really this paranoid?
  • Paranoid (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Misanthrope (49269) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @05:19PM (#29431499)

    They're probably just going to monitor heart rate to optimize aerobic exercise. At a certain point if your heart is beating too fast you'll end up in anaerobic mode.
    http://www.americanheart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=4736 [americanheart.org]

  • Troll? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Nimey (114278) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @05:20PM (#29431515) Homepage Journal

    This would be a pretty good troll posting. Nicely done, if so.

  • Re:Holy shit? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Hatta (162192) * on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @05:20PM (#29431527) Journal

    Whatever happened to permission slips? Kids run and play. There are inherent risks in allowing them to run and play, but the damage done by not letting them run and play is even greater.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @05:22PM (#29431565)

    It's a fucking middle school.

  • Re:Paranoid (Score:4, Insightful)

    by 0racle (667029) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @05:24PM (#29431605)
    I would be surprised to find its to optimize the heart rate. I'll lean more towards making sure these 12 year old tubs of lard don't keel over from a heart attack during gym class and the parents sue the school.
  • Paranoid (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ben Newman (53813) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @05:25PM (#29431621)

    I vote paranoid. In all the places I've heard of this used its only used as a way for the students to collect their own information and to monitor themselves and their own heart rate. These devices are generally only heart rate monitors, in no way are they designed to notice an arrhythmia, and I've never heard of the data being collected in any way. Besides since they've asked you to purchase the equipment, you would be better able to know exactly what the capabilities of the model you were asked to buy then a bunch of random Slashdotters. Stop reading the site and do some research.

  • Re:Paranoid (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Renraku (518261) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @05:26PM (#29431643) Homepage

    Paranoia, yes, but on who's part?

    Surely the school didn't purchase a bunch of new heart monitors because it might improve the calorie-burning of their students. Most likely what happened was that some kid presented with a previously-undetected heart defect and the school got sued. Now they're instating this to make sure that if someone else comes in with a funky rhythm, they can be taken to the hospital or allowed to rest as needed.

    On an even more paranoid note, wouldn't the presence of these heart monitors open them up for these lawsuits to begin with? "Well, Johnny was WEARING a heart monitor when his heart stopped! The doctors said that there was probably some kind of variation in the heart's rhythm, and the school didn't detect OR treat it until it was too late! They LET our child die!"

  • Re:Paranoid (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Otter (3800) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @05:26PM (#29431647) Journal
    Back in the olden days, we used to monitor our pulses in gym class using a finger and a clock. No, there's nothing suspicious about this, and anyone who used common equipment in gym should understand the benefit of buying your own strap instead of digging through a box to find the least sweaty one from the period before.
  • Re:Well (Score:5, Insightful)

    by broken_chaos (1188549) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @05:27PM (#29431673)

    Likely it's identical to the device that comes with/works with some treadmills. It detects BPM (beats per minute) and that's pretty much it. That's about all the data that's useful for pure exercise monitoring anyway. If this is a public middle school and they're just asking you to buy the strap and not the device, then that's likely the most sophisticated they could afford, even if there was 'evil' motivations behind it. Seen physical education budgets lately?

    So yeah, just a little paranoid...

  • Re:Holy shit? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MozeeToby (1163751) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @05:28PM (#29431693)

    I'm betting it's not even that and it's just a heart rate monitor to improve the quality of aerobic exercise. Sounds like a pretty good program to me; if kids are going to not do physical activities willingly and do the bare minimum in gym class, monitoring heart rate might be a necessary evil to ensure they get enough exercise.

  • Re:Well (Score:4, Insightful)

    by dkf (304284) <donal.k.fellows@manchester.ac.uk> on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @05:29PM (#29431699) Homepage

    And if your child DOES have heart problems, sooner or later he or she will need to see a physician, who will be sure to inform the insurance company of the condition.

    Seeing a doctor may also have the side effect of saving their life if they do have an arrhythmia. Having the opportunity to get health insurance later does them no good if they drop dead due to a treatable heart condition first.

  • by nweaver (113078) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @05:29PM (#29431701) Homepage

    A heart rate monitor is an incredibly valuable exercise aid.

    You want to keep your heart going fast, but not TOO fast. Especially when coupled with treadmills and similar devices, you can stay in the target heart rate zone automatically as the device adjusts the load.

    Likewise, its very useful in combination with a GPS-based bicycle computer: it really allows you to see where you are strong, where you are pushing yourself TOO hard, and when you really need to go harder.

    Also, exercise heart-rate monitors aren't THAT precise: you can detect a gross abnormality like atrial fibrilation, but nothing subtle.

  • by BlueCollarCamel (884092) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @05:31PM (#29431737) Homepage

    Why? So even less money is actually used on education?

  • This is ridiculous (Score:2, Insightful)

    by acid06 (917409) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @05:32PM (#29431773)

    You're debating over the "privacy issues" or whatever.

    Have you never stopped to wonder how stupidly ridiculous it is to ask a child to use heart monitors while performing basic physical activities? Soon they'll be outlawing sports for kids altogether as they raise the chance of physical injuries or whatever.

    And the fact that they might be doing this just to avoid lawsuits is every more disturbing. American society is still one of the greatest around - and I'm not an American - but it seems it's clearly entering a downward-spiral these days. Silly lawsuits, silly laws, "intellectual property", GPS-tracked mileage taxes.

    Seriously, you need to save your country.

  • by Bruce Perens (3872) * <bruce@perens.com> on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @05:32PM (#29431777) Homepage Journal
    By the way, I'm sorry that most of the folks who have posted so far are unsympathetic and unthinking creeps. It's your job to watch out for your child, and such thinking is hardly paranoid.
  • by Lord Ender (156273) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @05:32PM (#29431779) Homepage

    My tinfoil-hat concern is that the heart rate data will be tied to each child, then archived and eventually used for/against them down the road when applying for insurance, high-stress jobs, etc. '

    This is beyond tinfoil. This is the among the stupidest things I've ever read as an ask slashdot. It just goes to show that parental instincts can turn intelligent humans into frightened, protective, stupid animals.

    Submitter: A heart rate monitor is just a more accurate way of measuring someone's pulse. Have you ever exercised in your life? Did you put your fingers to your neck to check your pulse? This is the same thing, but with more accurate reading. And it beeps if your heart rate gets too high so you know to slow down.

    Do some damn research and try to collect your brains back into your skull. The big scary world isn't trying to ruin your little darling by checking his pulse.

  • the real solution (Score:2, Insightful)

    by geekoid (135745) <dadinportlandNO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @05:34PM (#29431801) Homepage Journal

    is to remove manditory PE from the schools. Use it as time to learn music, or have a out of class work for an hour to help kids deal with homework.

    Here is the thing:
    30 minutes of half hearted PE exercise in a gym where you mostly goof off really doesn't provide anything. If the child isn't getting exercise at home and learning proper diets then this isn't going to help them.

    Use the money for PE top provide a healthy lunch. No more pizza and cheap hot dogs.

    Kids that are inclined to exercise will play at home. Many kids do not get an opportunity to learn music in the home, and just learning to play a little each day stimulates the brain.

    no, I do not play music, but I wish all the effort schools spent to get me to wear shorts and sweat had been put into making learn an instrument..any instrument

  • Re:Holy shit? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @05:35PM (#29431813)

    Sued, yes. But more likely because the kid died from a previously undetected heart defect like the thickening of a heart wall. At the national level here in the USA, two or three kids in Middle or High Schools die every year from this cause, often while participating in organized sports. I see an article in the paper every so often.

  • by enigma32 (128601) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @05:36PM (#29431831)

    "They don't teach you crap!" ---- As opposed to my younger sister's experience where she takes written tests in gym class? I was always under the impression that gym class existed in order to ensure that as we grow up we are making good habits in using our bodies-- not knowing the ins and outs of every retarded sport the world has come up with. (American football, anyone?)

    Personally, I never had much use for the class. I don't really care to learn how to play basketball, soccer, "football". I prefer biking, kayaking, climbing, etc. as enjoyable ways to maintain a healthy body. The administration never seemed to understand that pre-college though.

    I can't see any reasonable reason to be monitoring students' heart rate either-- Whatever their supposed purpose is, it only is a detriment to the ability of the gym class instructor to do their job-- and at worst will leave that individual (or group of people) even more lazy about their jobs.

    I'd rather have incentives for people to work harder and do a better job than using technology to be lazy.

  • by Bruce Perens (3872) * <bruce@perens.com> on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @05:36PM (#29431863) Homepage Journal
    Have you ever been rejected for family medical coverage because your child had a urinary infection once, and a test to make sure it wasn't serious? I have.
  • by Sparr0 (451780) <sparr0@gmail.com> on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @05:37PM (#29431871) Homepage Journal

    There is no computer saving the data when I check my pulse with my finger.

  • Re:Paranoid (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MozeeToby (1163751) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @05:39PM (#29431909)

    Surely the school didn't purchase a bunch of new heart monitors because it might improve the calorie-burning of their students.

    Why not? The school probably already spends tens of thousands on gym equipment, and tens of thousands more on volountary after school sports. What's a hundred simple heart rate monitors at a bulk rate? A few hundred bucks for something that has been shown to improve the quality of excersise should be a no brainer.

  • Re:Holy shit? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Gerzel (240421) * <brollyferret@@@gmail...com> on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @05:43PM (#29431973) Journal

    About Health Insurance in the US it isn't paranoid. They ARE out to get you.

  • Re:Holy shit? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Lord Fury (977501) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @05:43PM (#29431991)

    This seems to be what it's for. I'm 21 now, but during senior year we were required to use pedometers as the first step that was leading up to using heart rate monitors and pedometers to track the amount of work we did. The most we did was record the number of steps we took during class on our own personal chart to keep track of progress. The closest the school got to seeing the charts was when the gym teacher checked over everyone's chart at the end of the week to make sure everyone was doing it and to maybe encourage those that had lower numbers to try harder.

    Try and find out from the school what data they'll be keeping, but for the most part this program seems to be getting lazy kids to work harder during gym.

  • Re:Paranoid (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Otter (3800) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @05:46PM (#29432023) Journal

    Surely the school didn't purchase a bunch of new heart monitors because it might improve the calorie-burning of their students.

    If you haven't been paying attention this summer -- fat people are the new terrorists. It seems a lot more plausible to me that a school is implementing a weight control plan than that they're expecting a gym teacher to diagnose cardiac abnormalities with a heart rate monitor, something a cardiologist couldn't do usefully.

    Thinking this over some more, though, I'm more sympathetic to the asker's paranoia than I was at first. If school's can embrace policies of publicly weighing and humiliating children, they might well decide that the heart data might be shared in some inappropriate way, although the insurance thing seems unlikely.

  • Re:Holy shit? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by eleuthero (812560) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @05:46PM (#29432041)
    I would suggest two generations and a greater focus on "diversity" rather than "common humanity" to the point that we have many kids (I teach) now interpreting "diversity" as "racism that is ok" - and by the time they reach me in high school, it is a bit too late to change this.
  • by brkello (642429) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @05:50PM (#29432091)
    Particularly since if we did have government run health care, no one would be denied. You should be more worried that we don't get a health care bill passes and some how insurance companies would get this data. Then they would for sure not cover your child since it had a pre-existing condition.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @05:52PM (#29432111)

    It's no big deal. You're insane.

    The idea behind this is to teach kids about their target heart rate. You do a couple of math problems to figure it out and the device beeps when your heart is beating fast enough. It's to teach kids how hard they have to work out. If you're walking around casually its not fast enough.

    These are the same things you can buy if you want to go jogging.

    You're paranoid, and nuts. Do you really think the gym teacher's handwritten notes about how long your kid is in his target heart

  • Re:Holy shit? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by TheEldest (913804) <theeldest AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @05:53PM (#29432145)

    Learning to exercise and keep yourself in shape is a part of the cirriculum.

    Start looking up child obesity numbers and you'll see that schools need to be doing more, not less.

    I'd imagine the program is to let kids know where their heart rates are, and where they should be to get good exercise. Even if they are recording everything, it's pretty meaningless information. You'd know a person's heart rate from 7th grade.

    The bigger issue here is whether your kids are getting exercise and whether they're overweight. If they're heavy, do everything possible to encourage exercise. Once the habits are set, they're incredibly difficult to change once they're adults.

  • by kheldan (1460303) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @05:54PM (#29432153) Journal
    On the practical side, schools don't have any money for the necessities, so I doubt they'd spend any money on equipment to log heart rates of individuals. They're likely just going to use it to optimize physical training for each kid as much as possible. Look on the bright side: if your kid learns now to use a heart rate monitor, he might use one later in life for regular exercise and be overall healthier.
  • by Wisconsingod (995241) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @05:55PM (#29432185) Journal
    Isn't the purpose of a School to TEACH???

    When it comes to monitoring heart rates in Gym Class, there are two ways to go about this
    1) Teach them to take their own pulse, and they can learn a valuable skill to be used anytime
    or
    2) Use Heart Rate Monitors, therefore teaching the students to be peons to the capitalistic sale of gadgets that are only useful when they are present and work

    I love gadgets as much as the next geek here on slashdot, but come on... without basic knowledge, how will the next generation be able to function without these tools.
    .... this is as bad as the match classes that now teach use of a calculator, as opposed to teaching MATH
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @06:04PM (#29432345)

    My kids school is doing the same thing. The results aren't computerized or anything, they just check the kids heart rates to make sure that they really are getting the workout that they are expected to get. Different kids have different fitness levels. You can have two kids trailing the pack when running. One is working his butt off and has a good heart rate, and the other one is fit, but totally slacking. The heart rate would show the difference. My kids school just uses the heart rates to make sure that the kids aren't being lazy. Although I do have my paranoid side to me (who among us geeks doesn't?), this isn't likely to be anything to be paranoid about.

    From what I understand, this is getting to be the new thing. PE is finally catching up with the times and using technology to make it more effective. Whodda thunk it?

  • by Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @06:06PM (#29432391) Journal
    That is horrible and hopefully upcoming legislation will address that, but its quite a logical leap from that to what the poster is fearing.

    Although, the last time I disagreed with Bruce he was 100% correct in his prediction. Hmm... I know who I would believe if I wasn't me.
  • Re:Holy shit? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @06:07PM (#29432403)

    I always thought the purpose of gym class was to pad the GPAs of the otherwise borderline-retarded jocks and give them people to feel superior to for a few years before they move to the trailer park. YMMV.

  • by Bruce Perens (3872) * <bruce@perens.com> on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @06:07PM (#29432407) Homepage Journal
    Well, I think we'd be doing a lot better on health care reform right now if we hadn't first had to inject cash into financial companies that then paid it to underperforming staff as bonuses, and if we hadn't had to support auto manufacturers that kept making big inefficient and unreliable cars despite nearly thirty years of perception of their lagging foreign concerns, and if we hadn't entered some stupid wars.

    That said, I'm for the public option. I am having a lot of trouble reconciling the responsibility of a private medical coverage firm to its stockholders vs. its responsibility to the public. We don't have very many for-profit fire departments in the United States any longer, although that was once the norm. Wonder why?

  • by Bruce Perens (3872) * <bruce@perens.com> on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @06:11PM (#29432491) Homepage Journal
    Well, he didn't have an existing illness. But you have just explained, pretty well, why insurance companies should not be allowed to be involved in individual medical coverage. Because it's not in their interest to cover sick people! I hope all of the folks who are against the public option get for-profit fire departments in their towns.
  • by geekoid (135745) <dadinportlandNO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @06:12PM (#29432499) Homepage Journal

    This is a way to more accurately and effectively do physical education, nothing more.

    "Seriously, you need to save your country."
    Yeah, well we're working on it. Just some cronies left over from the previous administration are fighting us.

    "And the fact that they might be doing this just to avoid lawsuits is every more disturbing"
    I doubt that's the case. Everytine someone wants to do something mew, poeple on slashdot scream it due to lawsuits!!! when is seldom is.

    "Silly lawsuits,:
    Most aren't, and by most I mean over 99% of them aren't silly.

    " silly laws,"
    Every country has them.

      "intellectual property",
    This is a good thing, it's jsut be stretched too far.

      GPS-tracked mileage taxes.

    Where? Were the fuck is this happening in the US? huh? Jack ass. Just becasue it's a proposal to solve an issue doesn't mean its happening.

    What country are you from where you think it's ok to taker a dumb ass proposal and tout it as a fact that's happening?
    You moron.

  • by Animats (122034) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @06:19PM (#29432599) Homepage

    From the comments, I suspect that most Slashdot readers don't spend much time in gyms.

    Heart rate monitors are very useful. They tell you what resistance level you should be using on the cardio machines. Some of the fancier cardio machines read your heart rate and automatically adjust the resistance level to keep your heart rate in the training zone.

    Great for obese kids. And adults. It fine-tunes their workout to a level they can handle while preventing goofing off.

    If the school is really doing that, good for them. They're doing it right.

  • Re:Holy shit? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ReverendLoki (663861) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @06:19PM (#29432613)

    Just to point out, it's the libertarians (little l, meaning the political ideology, not the political party) that are most likely to question what these are being used for, and if they are to become some sort of permanent record, to take umbrage with that. Although you are a tad more likely to find libertarians in the Republican party as opposed to the Democratic party, libertarian != conservative.

    Myself, I am a slightly left-leaning centrist libertarian, and a new dad (5 days ago! Woot!), I can understand the concern. This is the sort of odd request that I just have to ask "What is this being used for anyways?" I'm not saying I automatically disapprove of it, whatever it is.

    yeah, I know, you're just a troll trying for a few bites. I don't care. This really isn't a response to you anyways. I've just seen too many knee-jerk "let's paint everyone who doesn't agree with us with one broad stroke and thus be able to disregard them all" reactions lately.

  • by Bruce Perens (3872) * <bruce@perens.com> on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @06:20PM (#29432615) Homepage Journal
    A heart rate monitor, or a person measuring the pulse with his finger and a watch after a 2-step test, measure a figure that is of potential interest to a party which wishes to use information to filter to whom medical coverage will be offered. The difference between electronic and manual is that electronic records are made automatically, in a medium that is extremely easy to transmit.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @06:22PM (#29432659)

    Heart rate monitors are highly overrated.

    You can feel how hard you're working out without one (it's basic homeostasis -- any animal with a circulatory system can sense and react to its level of exertion), and if you're really curious you can put your finger on your neck for 15 seconds. The goal of an aerobic workout is to exercise at a moderate level. If you feel like you're going to collapse, you're working too hard. If you don't feel anything afterward, then it wasn't hard enough. Your body is generally very good at telling you how it feels, probably because our species would have died out immediately after evolving if it lacked that capacity.

    Heart rate monitors are just another way to separate people from their money in a gadget-obsessed, health-obsessed, society full of people insufficiently trained in critical thinking and psychologically primed by millions of years of evolution to believe whatever testimonial might drop on them from a perceived point of authority -- be it human or machine. And once a monitor has been purchased the user is even more likely to testify to the device's indispensable nature because failing to do so would be admitting the buyer got taken for a ride, and any improvement in fitness will inevitably be attributed to the monitor in spite of the essentially perfect likelihood that the same improvement would have happened anyway.

    That's without even getting in to the voodoo of optimum heart rate which has only a rough observational basis from statistical analysis of large groups.

    This is a seventh grade gym class for Christ's sake.

    There are uses for heart rate monitors in clinical settings, but probably not much use in seventh grade gym class. I'd certainly be pissed if my kid's middle school made me go buy one since, as discussed above, they are unnecessary, at least of little utility or value, cost scarce money that could be spent on something that is useful, distract from the exercise itself, and perpetuate the heart rate monitor industry by erroneously teaching kids that the monitor are useful and really matter.

  • Re:Holy shit? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Phanatic1a (413374) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @06:24PM (#29432693)

    They'll be allowed to run and play, but if they do it during school, they'll wear a heart monitor.

    Yes. First, there's the financial cost; it's hard enough for schools to afford, you know, *gym equipment* in the first place, and now you want them to buy heart monitors for every kid as well? Kids can learn about heart rates and pulses quite adequately without that expenditure, and as far as target heart rate and exercise goes, two fingers on the wrist and a frigging watch with a second hand work fine.

    Second, there's the social cost. You're either teaching them that "This routine physical activity we're requiring you to engage in is so dangerous it could *kill you* and you need to wear one of these to be safe," or "Our society is so ridiculously litigious and cowardly that this is what it's come to." That generation's going to be even more fucked up than the one that thought the TSA sounded like a good idea.

    Oh, how fitting. The captcha I've been given to post this is 'bogeymen.'

  • Re:Holy shit? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by guruevi (827432) <evi@smokingcCOFFEEube.be minus caffeine> on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @06:28PM (#29432753) Homepage

    There are several issues with that:

    a) If kids don't get enough exercise but only what they do in school, that's the parents' problem and maybe the parents' need to be looked after. In Europe, we had only 4 hours of gym class per week and later 2 hours of gym and none of the kids in my school were morbidly obese. We had some fat kids but they weren't keeling over from the exercises they were to do, instead they were coached on how to do better and how to reduce their body weight. I do have a legitimate disability and the program got adjusted for what I could do.
    b) If kids are not doing/not able to do the required activities in gym class then there is either an issue with the attitude of the kid, an issue with the exercises or gym teacher (asking too much of the kids) or an issue that needs reviewed by the family's or the school's physician. Back in the day, we had a score on our report cards and if we were unwilling to do the required exercises we would get bad grades and a note from the teacher. If it got out of hand, the parents would be called. You could also fail your year if you had consistently bad grades in gym and in high school we had gym exams where you were supposed to do certain things you learned throughout the year. It looks kinda bad if somebody fails their year due to gym so we made sure we got through.
    c) The issue with the parent here is that this device records the data and then saves it away on a computer somewhere. First of all, I don't see the need for this unless you have somebody with a legitimate problem where the doctor (state, school or family) prescribes that a personal heart monitor should be used for all exercise (again, morbidly obese or heart disorders). Although right now, this might seem benign since it's only a school but we're in a society were everything is connected and information wants to be free. If that data is not erased very soon, that data will eventually leak and cause all types of problems later on. Knowing the current state of IT in Education (I work in Education as an IT worker mind you) this is not a tin-foil hat scenario but something that happens every day. Even if it's not being used by insurance companies, there are always the HR people that will against official policy investigate this, find it and calculate the chance that you will die sooner than the other applicant or if your son/daughter runs for political office, it will be found and used against them.
    d) I also see an issue here where the school might not even be allowed to record/save this information since they are (most likely) not a HIPAA-covered entity, don't have the HIPAA requirements to store this data effectively and release/destroy it accordingly. The heart rate of a person over time IS medical data after all and with it come a lot of strings attached. Privacy is being taken very seriously by some government agencies (other agencies off course are there to destroy it) so knowing how rabid they are when something like this gets leaked might warn the school that they shouldn't do this in the first place.

  • by Bruce Perens (3872) * <bruce@perens.com> on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @06:28PM (#29432765) Homepage Journal

    Checking your heart rate when exercising should be mandatory so that people don't die from being pushed too hard.

    People don't die from being pushed too hard in gym class. They die from other reasons. The heart rate monitor is not a safety device.

  • WTF? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Das Auge (597142) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @06:29PM (#29432781)
    What the fuck are you babbling about?

    When did the user that submitted the article ever mention anything about politics? Or race? The submitter is concerned with ramifications regarding personal rights.

    You're the sort of person who just sits around waiting for anything even similar to a discussion so you can spew out your political beliefs and try to act holier-than-thou.

    There's the running joke about slashdotters living in their parents basements and not having a life, but you really don't seem to a have a life. So put down the moral superiority and go get one.
  • Re:Holy shit? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gbarules2999 (1440265) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @06:32PM (#29432831)
    Last I checked, they're all batshit insane, the guy in the summary included.
  • by Speare (84249) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @06:33PM (#29432839) Homepage Journal

    Scenario:

    * Kid has tiny routine temporary infection. It's resolved.

    * Parent wants to insure kid, wife, self, against costs of broken arms, car accidents, heart attacks, etc.

    * Insurance company goes on data mining expedition, sees tiny temporary infection in past, denies whole family coverage for all health issues.

    Now do you see the fallacy in your argument?

  • by fiannaFailMan (702447) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @06:40PM (#29432939) Journal

    is to remove manditory PE from the schools. Use it as time to learn music, or have a out of class work for an hour to help kids deal with homework.

    Here is the thing:
    30 minutes of half hearted PE exercise in a gym where you mostly goof off really doesn't provide anything. If the child isn't getting exercise at home and learning proper diets then this isn't going to help them.

    Use the money for PE top provide a healthy lunch. No more pizza and cheap hot dogs.

    Kids that are inclined to exercise will play at home. Many kids do not get an opportunity to learn music in the home, and just learning to play a little each day stimulates the brain.

    no, I do not play music, but I wish all the effort schools spent to get me to wear shorts and sweat had been put into making learn an instrument..any instrument

    Mother of god, so much stupidity crammed into a single post I hardly know where to start.

    Oh that's a great idea. Just when the obesity epidemic couldn't get much worse, let's drop the one chance many people get to burn a few transfats just because one fatass wanted to learn more music. (Hint: if you regret that you didn't learn how to play an instrument, why don't you just go and learn how to play an instrument?)

    "Kids that are inclined to exercise will play at home."

    OMG, I can't believe that A I just read that, and B you got modded Insightful. Here's a question, what about those who are not inclined to exercise? What do you suggest we do for them? Annual liposuction? What about those who aren't inclined to exercise now but would be more inclined to if they learn an appreciation for sport in school? Would you prefer them to become diabetic pianists? What about those who are inclined to exercise? Would you prefer to deprive them of a shot at some athletic enjoyment during their school years?

    30 minutes of half hearted PE exercise in a gym where you mostly goof off is...

    ...is obviously what you got but that doesn't mean everybody else got it. I learned to play basketball in school and would never have had a chance to learn it anywhere else. I also got great tennis lessons and a chance to shine on the athletics track in front of the chicks. Guess what? It felt great!

  • Re:Holy shit? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bcat24 (914105) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @06:43PM (#29432977) Homepage Journal

    And in the end, both groups are equally bad.

  • by Kohath (38547) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @06:46PM (#29433015)

    I bet they were happy to insure you against the risk of future illness when they found out they weren't being treated like a charity.

    You apparently have the fire department confused with fire insurance, but...

    There are plenty of places with private fire departments. You pay their annual fee, then they'll put your house fire out. If you haven't paid, they come out to your house but they don't put out the fire unless it threatens the neighbors who paid.

    It's a great, voluntary system of free people engaged in helping their neighbors and communities. There's no politics involved and no one is forced to pay against his will.

    To some of us who value freedom, that's a feature.

  • Re:Holy shit? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @06:51PM (#29433089)

    but then who's gonna watch Fox News?

    Probably the same people that watch CNN, CBS, NBC, ABC, etc. They're all trying to foist their political agenda on the masses.

    I don't remember the last time I read an article in the news on something I already knew about that seemed to have things correct (with the possible exception of some sports coverage where there's meager info on scores etc ). If every time they report on something I know about and it's wrong, what's the chance of them being right very often on the other stuff?

  • Re:Holy shit? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by clarkkent09 (1104833) * on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @06:55PM (#29433137)
    Because some of us think that he fact that something is seriously fucked up doesn't mean that it can't be made even worse by the government attempts to fix it. As for me, I am very much in favor of health reform, but I am not in favor of the particular plan that the current administration is proposing.
  • by rock_climbing_guy (630276) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @06:57PM (#29433163) Journal

    Asking to buy health insurance when you're sick is like asking to buy car insurance after you've already wrecked your car. If you want to have coverage, you must begin paying for it before you need it. By the way, I'm certain that there are abuses that go on in the insurance industry, but if you want health insurance, the general idea is that you sign up for it before you need it.

  • by Torodung (31985) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @07:00PM (#29433203) Journal

    This is very much like being worried because your kid is taking trig, and the teachers were using dependable, hand-crafted slide rules, but decided to end that and switch to programmable calculators with memory, and ZOMG it could remember all your kids math mistakes and thus rule them out of future employment!

    You can see where that sentence went silly right? Right about the point where you became afraid of any change, anything at all, that you were completely ignorant about. Ask Slashdot? Really? Ask the fscking gym teacher first.

    Your choice. Be reasonable and talk to the teacher, or assume the gummint is out to get you, but you won't home school, so you'll just have to send your kid into school with a gun. Either should solve your problem. One would be very amusing, and you should post the story to Slashdot telling us what happens next.

    --
    Toro

  • Re:Holy shit? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Vellmont (569020) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @07:01PM (#29433217)


    I can certainly imagine a regular public school banning PB&J sandwiches to avoid causing a reaction if someone with extreme peanut allergies was in attendance.

    You know what? The world is never going to accommodate this level of extremeness. If someone really has this extreme a sensitivity to an everyday item, it's not the of everyone else around you to adjust their behavior to accommodate them.

    Let's say you can somehow get away with this in school. What happens the rest of the kids life when they might walk by someone eating peanuts? Last I heard there were treatments that can reduce peanut allergy sensitivity down the level where even extremely sensitive people could get to the level where they can tolerate eating small amounts of peanuts. I guess I also have my doubts that merely SMELLING peanuts is actually dangerous for certain people, and not merely a purely psychological reaction brought on by nutty parents.

  • Re:Holy shit? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Vancorps (746090) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @07:06PM (#29433293)

    While I understand your point of view I also understand the point of view of parents who's kids have actually died from congenital heart defects which show themselves during physical activity. These heart monitors would alert someone before the kid actually collapsed.

    So yes, what they are doing could kill them if it isn't monitored appropriately but that doesn't stop the activity from being important. This is just a way to ease the paranoia of parents while allowing PE classes to stay as opposed to what strategy a lot of schools take which is to get rid of PE entirely. I think this option is better than that option as PE should be considered core education since exercise is something that kids are going to have to do their entire lives.

    Yes, it's probably going too far and we as a society should stop being scared of every little things. Playgrounds worked well when our parents were kids and when we were kids, yes, a kid will occasionally break his arm or leg but that's a part of growing up.

  • by Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @07:10PM (#29433341) Journal
    Please, a little civility. You're giving Bill named users a bad rep.

    Insulting others, just makes you look bad. And insulting others that insult others, only drags yourself to their level.
  • by Bruce Perens (3872) * <bruce@perens.com> on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @07:18PM (#29433447) Homepage Journal
    You're assuming that only medically useful data would be used to deny people access to health care. As I commented here [slashdot.org], my entire family was rejected for coverage because my child once had a VCUG test. That illustrates the problem pretty well, IMO: not medically useful, used to discriminate.
  • Re:Holy shit? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by easyTree (1042254) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @07:20PM (#29433473)

    Ditto my previous comment. Even more sickened though. Really, who gives a FUCK how someone is classified? Let's talk about this issues.

  • Re:Holy shit? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Smidge204 (605297) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @07:24PM (#29433529) Journal

    Maybe the parents should take their precious little snowflake to a fucking doctor to check for hear problems if they're that concerned.

    Seriously, I'm all for providing a safe environment for kids to play in (those stainless steel slides I had in elementary school put more kids in the nurse's office than anything on hot spring day) but there IS a limit to this.

    The devices cost money that is sorely needed for actual education and the PE teachers almost certainly do not have the equipment or training to do anything more significant that call 911. God forbid they DO try to do something and the kid dies anyway. Hello lawsuit!

    Have the parents sign a fucking waiver and let the kids run 'till they drop. Seriously.
    =Smidge=

  • by timeOday (582209) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @07:24PM (#29433531)

    There's no politics involved and no one is forced to pay against his will. To some of us who value freedom, that's a feature.

    Unfortunately people are not free to opt out of getting ill or injured; these are simply facts of life, unfortunately, and there are unavoidable associated expenses.

    Sure, a healthy lifestyle reduces the risk to some degree, and a "fat tax" on obesity might be justified. The same logic also leads to an "adrenaline tax" for thrill-seekers, a "bachelor tax" since married people are generally more healthy (having less fun?)... but these are just differences of degree - choices do not eliminate risk. And ultimately everybody dies, which is usually expensive.

    Perhaps as a stoic libertarian, your plan is to forego treatment and die of a curable illness. That's not a workable public policy. People actually faced with that situation do not go down with the ship, what they do is receive treatment and then declare bankruptcy. They are freeloaders.

  • Re:Holy shit? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @07:29PM (#29433573)

    brown people that give them boners (the wars, not the brown people).

    I don't know about that... I'm sure there was SOME reason someone was filming all those guys at Abu Ghraib getting sticks shoved up their asses and electrodes strapped to their balls.

  • Re:Holy shit? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Fulcrum of Evil (560260) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @07:29PM (#29433577)

    Left? Right? This ain't a football game, nancy. You can't chuck everybody in one of two holes.

    /guntoting liberal with delusions of anarchy

  • Re:Holy shit? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by number11 (129686) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @07:39PM (#29433709)

    While I understand your point of view I also understand the point of view of parents who's kids have actually died from congenital heart defects which show themselves during physical activity. These heart monitors would alert someone before the kid actually collapsed.

    Seems simple to me. If the kid's heart is too bad for PE, the kid shouldn't be taking PE at all. Yes, the occasional kid may surprise you and keel over, both life and natural selection are a bitch. If parents want their kids to wear heart monitors (substitute "geolocation devices", "moon suits", etc. as desired), let them purchase them and bully their kids into wearing them (in 90% of the cases, the kid will shuck the gear as soon as they get onto the school bus).

    As to the theory that PE teaches kids to enjoy exercise, I'd have to say that I found kick-ball the last exercise done in school that might have been termed enjoyable. Everything subsequent to that involved Nazi gym teachers and resulted in my avoiding those activities for the next 40 years. (Yes, it does show. Thanks for asking.)

  • Re:Holy shit? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Hatta (162192) * on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @07:59PM (#29433923) Journal

    They'll be allowed to run and play, but if they do it during school, they'll wear a heart monitor. Is this a bad thing?

    Teaching kids that physical activity is something to be feared? Yes, that's a bad thing.

  • Re:Holy shit? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @08:00PM (#29433925) Homepage Journal

    And in the end, both groups are equally bad.

    Actually, that's a corporate-media spread conventional wisdom that's badly mistaken. \

    They are not "equally as bad". Not when one side wants to stop vaccinations and science education.

  • Re:Holy shit? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Foobar of Borg (690622) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @08:15PM (#29434049)

    I don't know about that... I'm sure there was SOME reason someone was filming all those guys at Abu Ghraib getting sticks shoved up their asses and electrodes strapped to their balls.

    You see, it works like this. Much like the late Strom Thurmond, they do get boners over brown and black people. But, because of their ideology, they are not supposed to. So, they pretend they don't and enact (or at least try to enact) strict laws against that sort of thing. And then they get caught knocking up brown and black women. Kind of like with some of the virulently anti-homosexual Republicans. They tend to be closeted, or at least covered, homosexuals. There's nothing wrong with a white person liking black and brown people, or with homosexuals, but the Republicans really should stop trying to outlaw all this considering the people in their own party.

  • Re:Paranoid (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Qzukk (229616) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @08:16PM (#29434067) Journal

    So you start counting when the clock switches from :50 to :51 and stop when it switches to :52. If you blinked, that's ok, you make up a number that sounds like what the guy next to you said but isn't exactly the same because then it'd be obvious you were copying him, just like everyone else did throughout time, second hand or no. It's not like you actually felt your pulse anyway.

  • oh, please (Score:3, Insightful)

    by speedtux (1307149) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @08:25PM (#29434171)

    Heart rate monitors monitor -- guess what -- heart rate. Heart rate is how often your heart beats per minutes. For optimal training, heart rate should be kept in a particular (age-dependent) range. That's completely normal training procedure: almost every piece of aerobic exercise equipment at health clubs supports it.

    Be happy that your school is teaching your kids something about modern fitness, since you obviously aren't able to teach them.

  • by dfenstrate (202098) <dfenstrate.gmail@com> on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @08:36PM (#29434271)

    They drop out of the various negotiated-price private health insurance schemes, and for the same reasons.

    Sure they do. I know of a few specific cases myself. In such cases though, you have other options (insurance companies, paying cash, out of network partial reimbursement, etc). If the government performs a complete take over- and that's the eventuality once we start, because that's the only way the math will work out- then you won't have other options.

    Well, you will have other options- you'll be able to pay cash to see a doctor, a current situation which you imply is a problem.

    Hard choices often need to be made in the face of limited resources. Will you make those decisions, or will the government?

    Next time you go to the doctor, ask about their cash prices for various services. Think about how many you could pay for out of pocket if you had too. What common expenses would you be willing to give up to address those problems, if you had to? Eating out? Your cable tv/internet connection? Would you put off a computer upgrade? Sell the shiny new car and drive a beater?

    Do you think you should never have to make those decisions in order to satisfy your medical needs?

    Once you answer these questions, that will give you an idea of what sort of financial thresh hold you have, above which you would need insurance.

    The public debate should reflect these sorts of questions. It doesn't.

  • by Bruce Perens (3872) * <bruce@perens.com> on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @08:57PM (#29434469) Homepage Journal
    I think you're missing something. The problem of people who aren't offered health coverage at all, even though they aren't really even ill, and people who, upon getting sick, lose their health coverage.

    This is not at all a "would I have to give up ice cream" sort of situation.

  • by Hatta (162192) * on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @09:08PM (#29434581) Journal

    Oh that's a great idea. Just when the obesity epidemic couldn't get much worse, let's drop the one chance many people get to burn a few transfats

    Thirty minutes (more like 10 when you factor in time to change, taking turns on equipment, peptalks from coach, etc) 5 times a week isn't going to do a bit to stop obesity. Half an hour of aerobics burns something like 300 calories, it's a lot easier to just not have that bag of chips. Then you can spend the otherwise wasted time actually learning something.

    Here's a question, what about those who are not inclined to exercise? What do you suggest we do for them?

    Those who are not inclined to exercise will resent being coerced into it and become even less likely to exercise on their own time.

  • Re:Holy shit? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Cowpat (788193) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @09:18PM (#29434661) Journal

    Back in the day, we had a score on our report cards and if we were unwilling to do the required exercises we would get bad grades and a note from the teacher.

    I used to pride myself on getting good grades. I didn't care about my PE grade. I meant nothing to me, and I doubt that it would have meant much to my parents either.

    f it got out of hand, the parents would be called

    1) The parents aren't obliged to turn up (and they're not obliged to stay when they find out it's a whine about PE performance)
    2) Sensible parents ought not to be too concerned about bad PE grades

    You could also fail your year if you had consistently bad grades in gym and in high school we had gym exams where you were supposed to do certain things you learned throughout the year. It looks kinda bad if somebody fails their year due to gym so we made sure we got through.

    A school is an institution of education. Wasting an entire year of education because 'student didn't run around the hall hard enough' does indeed look bad, but it doesn't look bad for who you think it looks bad for.

  • Re:Holy shit? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kell Bengal (711123) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @10:25PM (#29435141)
    You'll find many of the truths we hold to be self-evident depend largely upon one's point of view.
  • by redalien (711170) <matthew@matthewwilkes.co.uk> on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @12:12AM (#29436011) Homepage

    I'm sure you're fed up of hearing it by now, but... worrying about knowing about health conditions out of fear that it will be used against you means your health-care system is broken, not that you shouldn't check your heart rate. Please don't construe this as coming down on one side or the other of US politics; I, as an englishman, honestly cannot fathom how a system that deprives people of poor health from care is acceptable.

    To the OP, if you're so worried about this, get the kid a heart rate monitor yourself, and teach him about optimal heart rates for exercise.

  • by Squalish (542159) <Squalish AT hotmail DOT com> on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @01:10AM (#29436291) Journal

    First, they graded people based on physical capabilities - who runs the fastest. This had the effect of failing the fat kid.

    Then, they graded them based on personal achievement - who has improved their running times the most. This had the effect of failing someone who put in their full effort the first time.

    Then, they graded them based on stamina - who made it through the full two miles. This had the effect of failing whoever had the least muscle mass and most weight to carry - again, the fat kid.

    Now, their idea may be to grade them based on who raises their heart rate to a specified level - the idea being that this is a more even distribution of effort even if it takes the athletic kid five times as much distance as the fat kid.

    Personally, I don't see why we need to grade a bloody PE class.

  • by misanthrope101 (253915) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @05:28AM (#29437577)

    I miss being a libertarian, because the world was so much simpler. Government=bad. Business=freedom. But the entire libertarian viewpoint (capitalize it or not, your choice) is basically blind to any abuse of power that is motivated by financial profit. They correctly see the dangers in government power, but non-government coercion, especially when money is involved, doesn't even register. I had to break with it because I felt that I was achieving clarity at the expense of ignoring what was right before my eyes.

    Related to the story, I'd guess the heart monitors in question are pulse monitors, not cardiac monitors that give you an EKG reading.

  • Eat less, asshole. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by FatSean (18753) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @09:19AM (#29438941) Homepage Journal

    We need PE because, if you haven't noticed, even young children in the USA are disgusting fat asses. It is unhealthy, it is costly to society, and it is a reflection on self control and self respect.

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