The surprising history of the "HRmax=220-age" equation

Robergs, Robert A. & Landwehr, Roberto (2002) The surprising history of the "HRmax=220-age" equation. Journal of Exercise Physiology Online, 5(2), pp. 1-10.

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Abstract

The estimation of maximal heart rate (HRmax) has been a feature of exercise physiology and related applied sciences since the late 1930's. The estimation of HRmax has been largely based on the formula; HRmax=220-age. This equation is often presented in textbooks without explanation or citation to original research. In addition, the formula and related concepts are included in most certification exams within sports medicine, exercise physiology, and fitness. Despite the acceptance of this formula, research spanning more than two decades reveals the large error inherent in the estimation of HRmax (Sxy=7-11 b/min). Ironically, inquiry into the history of this formula reveals that it was not developed from original research, but resulted from observation based on data from approximately 11 references consisting of published research or unpublished scientific compilations. Consequently, the formula HRmax=220-age has no scientific merit for use in exercise physiology and related fields. A brief review of alternate HRmax prediction formula reveals that the majority of age-based univariate prediction equations also have large prediction errors (>10 b/min). Clearly, more research of HRmax needs to be done using a multivariate model, and equations may need to be developed that are population (fitness, health status, age, exercise mode) specific.

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ID Code: 96880
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: age; exercise; fitness; heart rate; multivariate analysis; review; sport
ISSN: 1097-9751
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2002 American Society of Exercise Physiologists
Deposited On: 04 Aug 2016 01:58
Last Modified: 21 Jun 2017 14:52

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