Academic journal article Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport

An Empirical Evaluation of the Prediction of Maximal Heart Rate

Academic journal article Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport

An Empirical Evaluation of the Prediction of Maximal Heart Rate

Article excerpt

The development of individualized exercise prescriptions and many of the commonly used aerobic fitness estimation proce dures require knowledge of a person's maximal heart rate (HRmax). However, because a direct measurement of HRmax often is not feasible, exercise and fitness professionals routinely rely on prediction and frequently use age-based estimates to calculate HRmax. The most widely advocated technique for this purpose is to use the simple formula 220 - Age, an eq uation conceptualized by Fox, Naughton, and Haskell (1971) based on a literature survey of early European and North Ame rican studies in men. In addition, numerous other aged-based HRmax prediction equations have been derived from experime ntal studies of the measured HRmax response in various participant populations (e.g., Bruce, Fisher, Cooper, & Gey, 197 4; Hossack & Bruce, 1982; Whaley, Kaminsky, Dwyer, Getchell, & Norton, 1992) or by meta-analysis of HRmax data from the published literature (Londeree & Moeschberger, 1982).

Although there is consensus that age is the primary factor influencing HRmax, it is commonly acknowledged that the accu racy of age-based predictions is less than would be desirable for the aim of individual HRmax determination (Londeree & Moeschberger, 1982; Whaley et al., 1992). Therefore, it is important to study additional variables which may affect th e precision of HRmax estimation. It has previously been noted that gender-specific equations may improve the prediction of a person's age-adjusted HRmax (Hossack & Bruce, 1982; Whaley et al., 1992); however, this has not been a universal observation (Miller, Wallace, & Eggert, 1993; Ricard, Leger, & Massicotte, 1990). The effects of aerobic fitness level and selected anthropometric variables (particularly weight and body mass index) as predictors of measured HRmax (Blair, Lavey, Goodyear, Gibbons, & Cooper, 1984; Cooper, Purdy, White, Pollock, & Linnerud, 1977; Whaley et al., 1992) are al so still in question.

While available studies provide important data regarding the estimation of HRmax, the research is by no means complete nor has it been consistent. One particular area of concern is that the methodology to establish whether a person has pr ovided a maximal effort to obtain HRmax has varied widely among investigations. In the past, only a few studies include d accepted physiological criteria to help determine whether a participant had performed up to a true maximal cardioresp iratory exercise level. The most common strategy has been to simply request a participant to exercise to exhaustion and then use the peak heart rate achieved during exercise at more or less face value. As has previously been acknowledged by Londeree and Moeschberger (1982), it is likely that a number of participants in some studies may have failed to atta in HRmax. Hence, it is conceivable that a lack of rigorous research procedures to establish maximal exercise effort may have contributed to the HRmax variability that was observed. Similarly, in the absence of a direct oxygen uptake measu rement, it is questionable whether a person's aerobic fitness level was identified with a high level of accuracy (Blair et al., 1984; Cooper et al., 1977).

Therefore, this investigation was designed to assess HRmax in healthy normal adults across a wide range of ages to furt her study the effects of age, gender, aerobic fitness, and body mass index (BMI) as HRmax determinants. To establish ma ximal oxygen uptake (V[O.sub.2]max) and substantiate that a participant had provided an all-out effort to obtain HRmax, only maximal exercise test results of individuals who achieved a plateau in oxygen uptake as defined by Taylor, Buskir k, and Henschel (1955) were considered in the data analysis. Given the widespread use of the Fox et al. (1971) equation to estimate HRmax, the second objective of this study was to compare measured HRmax responses in the study population to predictions derived from the formula 220-Age. …

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