Target heart rate: Do the mathExercise plus maximum heart rate equals optimum physical peak. But for women, that’s old math.
By: Jo Colvin, Alexandria Echo Press
Exercise plus maximum heart rate equals optimum physical peak. But for women, that’s old math.
There is a new equation that ensures women are safer and healthier while they work out. Now, women who haven’t been able to reach their target heart rate (about 65 to 85 percent of maximum heart rate) can breathe a little easier – and be safer in the process.
For almost 40 years, health professionals have used a simple formula to determine maximum heart rate during exercise – 220 minus age. But that formula was developed from studies done on men.
In a recent study, researchers collected maximum heart rate data from 5,437 healthy women ages 35 to 93 who took part in treadmill tests. After following them for 16 years, a link was discovered between abnormal heart rate responses and higher risk for heart attack.
From the results of that study, a new formula was established to estimate the maximum heart rate a healthy woman should reach during an exercise session.
The new formula, although a little more complicated – 206 minus 88 percent of the woman’s age – is a more accurate gauge of the intensity of their workout.
Carole Westby, retired public health nurse for School District 206, thinks the new formula is a good thing.
“I have personally seen people pushing it too hard,” Westby said. “I’m concerned about people who, in their own best interest, could actually damage their heart.”
Using the previous formula, a 45-year-old woman in good health would have a maximum heart rate of 175. During a workout, she would want to reach and maintain a target heart rate of about 148 during her workout.
Based on the new formula, the same woman would have a maximum heart rate of 166, with the goal of maintaining a target heart rate of 141 while exercising.
Although the difference seems minute, that small number can mean the difference between an effective work-out or an exercise session that ends in total exhaustion and frustration.
“There are things we can do to get the benefit of exercise but not expose us to risk,” Westby concluded of the recalibrated formula. “After all, what we’re doing it for is to improve our health.”