For starters, it's not the familiar 220 minus your age in years. That formula, first promulgated in the 1960s, works reasonably well for people under age 40. But it overstates the maximum heart rate for older people.
A more accurate formula is the one published in 2001 by Tanaka in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology: Multiply your age by 0.7 and subtract that figure from 208. For example, a 40-year-old has a maximum heart rate of 180 (208 - 0.7 x 40).
Formulas aside, maximum heart rates vary, even among people of the same age. "The formula is only relevant for groups of people," Levine says. "For individuals, the prediction is off by plus or minus 10 to 20 beats per minute."
Still works out to be around the same for me. My heart rate during workouts tends to fluctuate between 130-140.
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