Using heart-rate feedback to increase physical activity in children

Prev Med. 2008 Oct;47(4):402-8. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2008.06.001. Epub 2008 Jun 10.


Objective: The objective of this study was to test whether heart-rate feedback prompts increased physical activity (PA) in primary school students.

Methods: A controlled trial with 210 9-11 year olds from subsidized Hong Kong Government primary schools was completed in December 2006. Schools were randomly assigned to one of three groups: Control (CG); Educational program (EG); No-educational program (NEG).

Intervention: In a short-term school-based intervention, heart-rate feedback was given either in combination with an educational program (EG) or in isolation (NEG). Long-term retention was assessed in comparison to the control group after 6 months follow-up.

Main outcome measures: Physical activity and changes in attraction to PA.

Results: In the short-term, heart-rate monitor feedback increased total daily PA by an average of 24% (p<0.001) and vigorous PA by 0.6% (p<0.05). No change was found for moderate PA. Increases occurred regardless of involvement in the educational program, and in the absence of any change in attitudes towards PA. No long-term retention was apparent.

Conclusions: The findings from the study suggest that feedback from heart-rate monitors encourages low intensity PA, but when removed increases do not persist.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Curriculum
  • Exercise*
  • Feedback, Psychological*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Health Behavior
  • Health Education*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Heart Rate*
  • Hong Kong
  • Humans
  • Male
  • School Health Services*
  • Treatment Outcome