A research headline about how to calculate peak heart rate (and thus how to calculate target heart rate) for women caught my attention just as my wife was approaching her gym's annual fitness-evaluation session. As part of many physical fitness evaluations and exercise plans, one must know what their ideal "peak hear rate" (aka, maximum safe heart rate, or HR-max) is for their age. This is calculated with a formula that begins with a rather high number, and then adjusts downward based on age.
According to the latest research from Northwestern Medicine, it turns out that the existing peak hear-rate formula being used for women -- the same one that was used for men -- does not fit reality: women truly are different from men! :)
Here is an excerpt that summarizes the findings, and the new peak heart rate calculation formula for women, arrived at after a rather large study (nearly 5500 women):
"Women are not small men," Gulati added. "There is a gender difference in exercise capacity a woman can achieve. Different physiologic responses can occur. " Gulati was the first to define the normal exercise capacity or fitness level for women in a 2005 study.
The old formula -- 220 minus age -- used for almost four decades, is based on studies of men. The new formula for women, based on the new research, is 206 minus 88 percent of age.
"Before, many women couldn't meet their target heart rate," Gulati said. "Now, with the new formula, they are actually meeting their age-defined heart rate."