By Laurel-Lea Shannon
Do you monitor your heart rate while working out? If so, you may be setting your pace too high. A recent study of 5,500 women at Northwestern Medicine in Chicago found that the time-tested formula for calculating maximum heart rate for women is, uh . . .wrong!
Up to now, the usual way to determine your maximum heart rate was based on 220 beats per minute minus your age. It turns out that number is too high for women. The new formula is 206 minus 88 percent of your age.
What difference does that make? Using the old method, a 38-year-old woman’s maximum heart rate would be 182 (220-38), and 85 percent of that is 155 beats per minute. Using the new method, the same woman’s maximum heart rate is 173 (206-33.4 (38 x .88)), and 85 percent of that is 147—a difference of 8 beats less per minute. It doesn’t sound like much but over a long workout that difference can add up to fatigue.
So if you’re too pooped to play after exercising, try recalibrating your workout. By toning down the intensity, you could turn fatigue into exhilaration.