maximal heart rate

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The highest heart rate value attainable during an all-out effort to the point of exhaustion (i.e. during maximal exercise). Maximal heart rate is often used to compute training heart rates. It can be determined directly using maximal workloads, but this is not always a safe or practical procedure. Therefore, it is generally estimated using a formula, the most common being: Maximal HR = 220 – age in years, since HRmax decreases with age. Estimations using formulae are only approximations and may be subject to errors of 10% or more. For example, maximal heart rates of 250 beats min−1 have been recorded for brief periods in skiers subjected to stress and intense isometric control. Maximal heart rate varies according to the type of exercise: for example, it is about 13 beats min−1 less in an upper body exercise, such as swimming, than in a lower body exercise, such as cycling. The lower HRmax is probably due to the relatively smaller amount of muscle mass involved in the upper body exercise.

Subjects: Sports and Exercise Medicine.

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