Skip to Main Content
1440_405-1116_628-768_432

How to Determine Your Maximum Heart Rate


Search for cardiologists near you and schedule your next appointment today

Have you ever felt your heart beating quickly during a workout and stopped to check your pulse on your wrist or neck? Your pulse determines your heart rate, or how many times your heart beats in one minute. Pulse rates differ from person to person based on various factors, such as weight and activity level. To get the best results, you should exercise below your maximum heart rate in what is referred to as your target heart rate; this will guarantee that you are achieving the ideal intensity level for your goals. Knowing and monitoring your maximum heart rate while you're active can be a powerful gauge of your intensity level and help you to avoid over- or underexercising.

Heart Rate by Age

The traditional method, also known as HRmax, is a simple way of gauging your maximum heart rate. Start by subtracting your age from 220. Then, use the result to calculate your range.

For example, if you're 50 years old, the calculation would be: 220 - 50 = 170 (HRmax). To calculate your heart rate on the high end of the suitable range (about 75 percent of your max heart rate), multiply 170 by 0.75 (max intensity) to get about 128 beats per minute (bpm).

Heart Rate by Age and Gender

A recent study found that the traditional method of calculating HRmax detailed above has been overestimating peak heart rates for women for nearly forty years; traditional HRmax calculations are based on a male standard. In 1992, Northwestern Medicine conducted an extensive study of nearly 6,000 women, which helped them come up with a new formula that gives a more accurate estimation of heart rates that healthy woman should achieve during exercise. This method is also more precise in predicting the risk of heart-related issues during a stress test. Based on the new research, the new formula for women is 206 minus 88 percent of their age: For a 50-year-old, 206 - (50 x 0.88) = 162 bpm.

Heart Rate by Age and Resting Heart Rate

Your resting heart rate is a valuable metric to determine your fitness level and heart health. A range of factors can affect your resting heart rate, including your body size, activity level, and body position. According to the American Heart Association, the average person's resting heart rate should be between 60 and 100 bpm. You'll need to know how to find your pulse in order to calculate your resting heart rate.

As you become more physically fit, your heart becomes more able to pump blood to the rest of the body. The Karvonen method, otherwise known as the heart rate reserve (HRR) formula, takes your resting heart rate into consideration by introducing the difference between your maximum heart rate and your resting heart rate. To determine your HRR, take your HRmax and subtract your resting heart rate (RHR). For a more accurate calculation, average the sum of your resting pulse for three consecutive mornings prior to getting out of bed. The Karvonen formula is your heart rate reserve multiplied by the percentage of intensity plus your resting heart rate.

For example, a 50-year-old with a resting heart rate of 65 would calculate as follows:

  • 220 - 50 = 170 for HRmax
  • 170 - 65 = 105 for RHR
  • [105 x 0.75 (max intensity)] + 65 = about 144 bpm

Considerations

Always talk to your doctor before starting any new exercise program to determine what a safe heart rate zone is for you. Additionally, stop exercising and call your doctor if you feel any discomfort or if you become dizzy or short of breath.

The Importance of Prenatal Vitamins

SEP 12, 2022

It's important to remember that vitamins and supplements cannot take the place of a healthy diet. For example, pregnant women should eat multiple servings of fresh green vegetables and foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Higher doses of certain vitami...

Read More Additional information about Dignity Health | *

Breastfeeding for Working Moms: 5 Tips to Guide You

SEP 12, 2022

It's often said that breastfeeding is a full-time job. And in those first few weeks of motherhood, when it feels like you're feeding constantly, it certainly can be. But what happens a few months later when you have to go back to work?

Read More Additional information about Dignity Health | How to Make Breastfeeding for Working Moms Easy

How to Know When a Child Injury Requires Medical Attention

SEP 11, 2022

Scrapes, bumps, and bruises from outdoor play are a child's rite of passage, but sometimes a fall or a tumble results in a more serious injury. For many parents, the problem is to know when a twisted ankle is just a minor sprain or something worse — ...

Read More Additional information about Dignity Health | How to Know When a Child Injury Requires Medical Attention