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At one time or another we've all experienced an "OMG I feel like I'm going to die" moment while working out. Our heart feels like it's bursting from our chest, we're sweating buckets, and our bodies feel like rubber. Well, ladies, we may have been working out too hard. A new study from Northwestern Medicine says that the formula women have been using for decades to calculate their peak heart rate is wrong, and results in a number that is too high. This standard formula is what heart rate monitors, whether portable or built into cardio equipment, base calculations on for determining different workout zones. And if you use these devices to determine the pace of your workout, you're working harder than you need to.

Using the standard heart rate formula, you subtract your age from 220 to determine your maximum heart rate. But under the new formula — based on a study of 5,437 healthy women ages 35 and older — you subtract 88 percent of your age from 206. It's a little trickier, but nothing that can't be done on a calculator. While the difference in heart rates between the formulas isn't enough to send anyone into cardiac arrest, it's still significant. Having a more accurate reflection of our peak heart rate means we can adjust our workouts, which will give us more endurance before burning out. And for those of us that gauge workouts and heart health this way, the new formula takes on even more significance.

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chiachera 6 years
Formula: 206-(Age*0.88), so for a 25 year old it would be 206-(25*0.88)=206-22=184
amber512 6 years
The highest I have ever gotten my heart rate was still not that high. And I didn't feel like I was going to die. Am I supposed to pushing myself harder? lol My problem is that the second I stop going hard my heart rate drops down below 90. I turned it on once while I was sitting in the car and my heart rate was 50. I wonder if that is considered low?
Spectra 6 years
I use my HR monitor and I generally try to stay between about 140-150 bpm...I generally go by my RPE so I don't push too hard or not hard enough.
Runnergirl13 6 years
I think I'm just going to continue to go with how I feel, too. I consistently hit well over my "max heart rate" during my workouts, yet there are days when my HR is 195 and I'm feeling awesome during workout... I'm interested to see if this new formula takes over - especially since it is such a significant difference.
Sasseefrass 6 years
Uh oh. Even with the old formula my MHR has never lined up with my perceived exertion. During my HIIT training I regularly exceed my supposed MHR using the old formula, which technically shouldn't be possible if that was my true MHR. I think I'll just continue using my perceived exertion. :) Seems that these formulas based on averages don't work for everyone.