New Target Heart Rate, Specifically for Women

Women now have a target heart rate formula specifically for them thanks to Cardiologist Martha Gulati,MD from Ohio State Medical Center. The usual standard calculation for exercise heart rate is actually based on male only studies. Women, as we all know, are different from men in many ways and exercise heart rate is no exception for sure.

“Women are not small men,” Dr Gulati says. Women have a different exercise capacity that should be measured using a gender-specific formula.

Here is the current formula based on male only studies and is generally accepted for men and women based on age: ” If you are 50. Subtract 50 from 220 and you get 170, your estimated maximum heart rate. 70% of 170 (119) is the floor and 85% of 170 (145) is the ceiling of your target heart range, and when you work out, you will aim for a target heart rate of between 119 and 145 beats per minute.

Dr Gulati’s new formula for women only is: “based on a study of 5,437 healthy Chicago-area women aged 30 and older. Women multiply their age by 0.88 (to find 88% of their age) and subtract that number from 206 (instead of 220) to find the maximum heart rate for women that age. Then multiply that maximum by 70% to 85% to find your target heart rate range floor and ceiling.”

Ex: If you are” 50 and female. Subtract 44 (88% of your 50) from 206 and you get 162, your maximum heart rate. 70% of 162 (113) is the floor and 85% is (138) is the ceiling of your target heart rate range, so your workout heart rate will range from 113 to 138 beats per minute.”

Julie Ramos,MD, a cardiologist at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City agrees with the new formula.” Using the right calculation makes a big difference. In the doctor’s office, it shows that women who can’t reach the old target heart rate are not at as high a risk for cardiac events and death as men who can’t reach their targets.”

There is however, a male voice raised in protest. Asked what the new rate means when women go to the gym, Carl Foster, past president of the American College of Sports Medicine is quoted as saying this new formula means “absolutely nothing. You assess how hard you’re working based on how you feel in the perceived exertion test. Moderate is good. Unless you’re an athlete, make sort of hard your upper limit, .Your breathing is the telltale clue in the talk test. Ideally, you should be able to speak in complete sentences without breathing hard. (this is good advice for our patients on beta blockers)

Dr Gulati reports that she hopes soon to have an iPhone app that will make calculating women’s target heart rates easy and fast.

You can find out more about Dr Gulati and this topic from the following websites: