Target Heart Rate Changes for Women?

According to a New York Times blog, Well, researchers announced a new formula to calculate target heart rates specifically for women.  According to the blog post,

The commonly used formula subtracts a person’s age from 220. But based on the data collected in the Chicago study, the right formula for calculating a woman’s maximum heart rate is a little more complicated: 206 minus 88 percent of a woman’s age.

In the short run these findings are only important for women who workout or train in heart rate zones, using heart rate monitors.  In the long run, trainers and sport exercise experts will look at this new formula and adapt workouts accordingly.

Unless you’re a competitive athlete where it’s important to train in various aerobic thresholds, this new formula provides little contribution for the average exercising woman.  Exceptions would be for women who are recommended to exercise with heart rate monitors due to medical conditions.

As fun as it is to calculate and monitor your training zones, all this math is unnecessary to work up a good sweat.  There are enough barriers to getting women to workout such as time, money and confidence.  Making the physical experience of exercise more cerebral with new formulas convolutes the goal of movement.

206 – 88% of a woman’s age is another one-size-fits-all type of formula which won’t fit all women.  If you’re doing an aerobic exercise and you want to make sure you’re reaping aerobic benefits let me share a tip my exercise physiology teacher rigorously researched and preached to our class.

Do the “talk test.” While you’re jogging, walking, Zumba-ing, you shouldn’t be able to talk to someone with ease but you should be able to talk to them.  Sustain that moderate level of talking difficulty and you should be in your aerobic target zone.  Clearly a trained marathon runner would need to run faster than a couch potato the same age to benefit from aerobic training, which is another reason why I find this generic formula problematic.

If science and technology are important aspects of your exercise experience, you may find this blog post interesting.

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