Predicted Maximum Heart Rate Calculation

Published: 09th December 2009
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Before beginning an exercise program it is a good idea to check out your resting heart rate, target heart rate for your age, and a predicted maximum heart rate. It is important to establish a base so that progress can be measured. This gives a goal for each workout.

Calculation of resting heart rate is best done before getting out of bed and you are still horizontal. This is a good method to determine the minimum heart rate. Take your pulse using a stop watch or the second hand on a clock. The best approach is to measure this for a minute, but a half minute could be used and then doubled.

Resting heart rate can increase with age but there is also often significant difference among people depending on fitness levels, age, and their genetic background. This gives a starting point for you.

People most often have found that taking the heart rate is easiest on the wrist. Measure the beat of your radial artery on the side of your hand where your thumb is. To avoid confusion the fingers should be used to get the beat, the thumb has a beat of its own which makes it tricky to count. Another option often seen on TV programs is to take the pulse under the jaw on the carotid artery on the side of the neck

Having established your resting heart rate the next measure is the the predicted maximum heart rate calculation. This is to determine how many beats your heart could reasonably do in a minute. The target maximum heart rate is then calculated.

A cardiac stress test is the recommended approach to get data for the predicted maximum heart rate calculation. A doctor should ideally supervise this test so it is not for everyone. A doctor has the skills to look for changes that occur in the heart when it is stressed and this is used as the maximum. These tests are often done for top athletes and less often for the ordinary fitness enthusiast.

The predicted maximum heart rate is probably more commonly determined using a formula based on the age of the person. The cardiac stress test is used by researchers to calculate these formula. Keep in mind that there are still significant variations between individuals.

You will often have seen a chart on the wall at the gym, and sometimes it is on the powered exercise machines that gives a guide along the following lines:-

At age 30 At age 55

Maximum Heart Rate = 220 minus your age 190 165

Another acceptable formula is

Maximum Heart Rate = 205.8 minus (0.685 × age) 185 168

The second test gives a somewhat narrower range, and also allows a higher heart rate at an older age.

As mentioned before there is a significant difference between different people even if the fitness level and age is similar. An interesting test has been undertaken on team members on the same exercise regime, and are of similar age. Therefore these tests cannot really be applied to comparing the relative levels of fitness.

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