According to Stephen Roy of the Universtity of Pittsburgh, when several popular formulas for calculating maximum heart rate (MHR) are compared statistically, some formulas are better suited to one gender or activity level than others. Achieving your MHR is very strenuous; its determination by estimation is more practical and, for some, safer. MHR is useful because ideal exercise exertion for the sake of health and athletic conditioning can be described as a range of maximum heart rate percentages.
For average males and the sedentary, calculate the MHR with the formula 220 - age.
For women, calculate the MHR with the formula 208 - 0.7xage.
For fit males, use the formula 205 - age/2.
Tips & Warnings
- You can use your MHR in a few ways. You can reduce your risk of heart disease by exercising in the 50 to 60 percent range of MHR for 30 minutes most days of the week. About 60-70% is appropriate for weight management. About 70 to 80 percent is appropriate for weight loss and aerobic conditioning. Your anaerobic threshold is around 80%, but can be close to 90% among serious aerobic athletes. Training at or just below it improves competitiveness in sports that mix aerobic and anaerobic exertion.
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