Lesson Plan

Your Target Heart Rate

A nature trail along the Natchez Trace Parkway that loops back to its original location.
NPS Photo


Students will be put through a jog on a nature trail of the parkway and learn the importance of stretching and exercising in their target heart rate zone. The students will determine their pulse and  maximum heart rate (MHR). The students will then determine their target heart rate (THR) zone by using their MHR and record their data. The students will then be put through a mild stretching exercise. Finally, the students will then participate in a jog along the trail to the end of the trail.


Enduring Understanding: The greatest benefits in exercising are gained when training in the target heart rate zone.

Essential Question: How do you determine you target heart rate zone?

The students will be able to:

1.) Determine their pulse, maximum heart rate (MHR), and target heart rate (THR) zone

2.) Gain an understanding of what it is like to exercise at their own THR and the importance of doing so.


See Teacher Information Sheet

Disclaimer: The teacher should walk the trail or course before admitting students on the trail or course to determine if they feel it is a safe and desired site for the activity and remind the student of trail safety regulations. For more information call the Natchez Trace Parkway at 1-800-305-7417 or log online to www.nps.gov/natr


1.) Teacher Information Sheet

2.) Student Data Sheet

3.) Notebook, pen or pencil

4.) Stopwatch or Wristwatch (optional)

5.) Students should be wearing gym clothes and appropriate shoes


Student Task: The teacher will tell the students that they will each determine their own pulse, or heart rate, their predicted maximum heart rate, and their target heart rate zone. The teacher will then discuss what each briefly are and their importance in exercising. The teacher should then tell the students that they will be go on the trail for a jog but first they will be put through a light stretch to loosen themselves up. The teacher should discuss the general importance of stretching before exercising. After stretching the students will now go on the jog, at their own pace, along the desired trail or designated course. When asked by the students how hard do they need to run, a good idea for the teacher to tell the students that if they can jog and comfortably talk at the same time then they are not jogging hard enough, and if they get out of breathe very quickly then they are running too hard.

Student Instruction:

1.) The students will use a sheet of paper from their notebook to put their name, and other required identifying information on it.

2.) They should then be asked if they already know how to find their pulse, or heart rate. At this time the teacher will help those students who do not, find their pulse.

3.) They will then be asked to count the number of pulses while the teacher takes the stopwatch, or wristwatch, and counts off 15 seconds.

4.) The students should then take the number of pulses and multiply by four.

5.) On the sheet of paper they will write down that information.

6.) After the students have finished, the teacher should now discuss what the MHR is and its importance and give the students the formula to find their predicted MHR.

7.) The students will also figure out what their own MHR is and record that information on their sheet of paper.

8.) After doing so, the teacher will define what the THR zone is and its importance to exercising.

9.) The teacher will instruct the students how to find their THR zone by using their MHR.

10.) The students will then record that information on to their sheet of paper.

11.) The students will now be put through some light stretches led by the teacher that the teacher has chosen, preferably from the "Teacher Information Sheet".

12.) The students will then be told to carefully jog the trail or course, designated by the teacher, and at there on pace, but it must at least be a mild jog. Also before they begin their jog, they should be instructed as to where to the jog will end and that upon finishing they will then calculate their heart rate again by checking their pulse the same way they first calculated their heart rate, but they will be doing so on their own by counting off fifteen seconds this time, and to record that information on their sheet of paper and note to themselves if their recently checked heart rate is within their THR zone.

13.) For additional math practice, and for the sake of "keeping the students in check", the teacher may instruct the students to calculate what percentage their heart rate is out their MHR after they are finished with the jog and calculating their second heart rate.

Teacher Closure: The teacher should have everyone to take a moment to catch there breathe. The students should now be asked if their recently measured heart rate was within their THR zone. If their heart rate was within their THR zone, then inform the students that they exercised within that zone. The teacher can now discuss with the students what it was like to exercise in their THR zone, if they were able to reach it. If they were not able to do so, inform them that they now will have some understanding of what it would be like to exercise in their target zone. The teacher should remind the students of the importance of exercising and doing so in their THR zone. Then, the teacher should also remind the students that they need to have all information on their sheet of paper.


The students will be evaluated on their participation in the calculations of the various heart rates as well as the period of stretching and jogging.


1.) The teacher can make sure that the students know that the overall idea of the lesson was the importance of training in their THR zone. Review the idea when the students are assigned to other types of exercises. The students can take this knowledge and apply it to anytime they workout or exercise on their own.

2.) It may be a good idea for the teacher to have the students pair off with someone who they feel will is in about the same shape as they are or will keep the same pace as they do. This way no one will be on a section of the trail alone.


Heart Rate, Maximum Heart Rate, Target Heart Rate Zone