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The heart responds differently to exercise in men vs. women
Date:3/27/2014

formula overestimates the peak heart rate younger women can achieve and underestimates the peak heart rate of older women.

Women in the age range of 40 to 89 years should expect their maximum heart rate to be 200 minus 67 percent of their age. In men, the formula is 216 minus 93 percent of their age. For women younger than 40, the relationship of heart rate to age may be different, as an insufficient number of tests on women younger than 40 were available to provide reliable results.

The study also showed that younger men have a lower resting heart rate and higher peak heart rate than women and that men's heart rates rise more dramatically during exercise and return to normal more quickly after stopping. The study did not investigate the physiological reasons behind the differences, although the researchers suggest hormones, especially testosterone, may play a role.

The previous formula was based on a study researchers now recognize as having serious limitations. For example, it included few women, a weakness common among older studies.

"It's logical that an equation developed 40 years ago based on a group that was predominantly men might not be accurate when applied to women today," Allison said. "But sometimes things just get stuck."

Changes since the 1970s in terms of average body weight, fitness levels and attitudes toward exercise particularly among women justify a re-evaluation of peak heart rate norms, Allison said. Other recent studies have offered updates to the formula, but this study uses a larger sample size and is the first to include data from both men and women.


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Contact: Beth Casteel
bcasteel@acc.org
202-375-6275
American College of Cardiology
Source:Eurekalert

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