Recommended age group: 11–14 (KS3)
Time required: one 60 min session
Equipment: Pick Up the Beat activity sheet, stopwatches, tennis rackets, tennis balls and heart rate monitors (if available).


In this activity, students will investigate how playing tennis and other sport activity affects heart rate.

Students will be taught to:

  • recognise the impact of exercise on the way their bodies function
  • interpret and present data using appropriate graphical methods.


  1. Explain that students are going to investigate different tennis-related exercises and ask how we can compare their effects on our bodies. Heart rate is a simple measure of how hard the heart is working to move blood and oxygen to where the body needs it.
  2. Demonstrate how to measure pulse rate. Students can either take a pulse in the traditional way from the wrist, or heart rate monitors can be worn and read.
  3. Discuss the benefits of exercise and its importance for health and wellbeing.
  4. In pairs, students begin the investigation, following the instructions on the Pick Up the Beat activity sheet. (The activities are flexible as long as a change in pulse rate can be detected.)
    • A measures B's pulse then B does one minute of throwing and catching a ball.
    • Pairs record their results then reverse roles.
    • Pairs repeat the pulse rate test with another activity, such as a minute running between two markers, bouncing a tennis ball.
    • Finally, A and B complete a one-minute tennis rally (or another medium to high-intensity activity) again testing starting and finishing pulse rates.
  5. Students can plot a graph of their results on the worksheet to compare activities.
  6. Once finished, students can devise other tennis activities to test. To discuss how different types of activity improve fitness, students can place the activities they have tried on a scale, comparing their effects on heart rate. Explain why physical activity increases heart rate and why this is beneficial.


  • Compare other sports activities by measuring pulse, e.g. bouncing a basketball, dribbling a hockey ball, catching a cricket ball etc.
  • Students can use ICT to plot a graph of their results and explain their findings in a short presentation to the class.
  • Students could investigate the effect of music on heart rate, thinking about why players might listen to certain types of music.
  • Students can research cardio tennis and discuss how regular participation may improve physical fitness.