As a woman, your heart rate changes as you age. These changes in heart rate affect how fast your heart beats at rest and during activity. Among the reasons for knowing your heart rate is that it is an indicator of cardiovascular health. Once you know your resting heart rate, you can determine a healthy and safe exercise heart rate range.
Measuring Your Pulse
Your pulse is a measurable indicator of your heartbeat. Locate your pulse on the side of your neck or on the underside of your wrist. Feel your pulse with the first two fingers of your hand to avoid using your thumb which has a pulse point of its own. Your heart rate is measured in beats per minute, or BPM. Count the number of beats you feel within 10 seconds and multiply the result by six to determine your BPM.
Your Resting Heart Rate
A resting heart rate, RHR, indicates how fast your heart is beating when you are not moving. According to the American Heart Association, the best time to calculate your RHR is before you get out of bed in the morning. If you wake to an alarm, remain still for one minute to allow your heart rate to return to its resting rate. Find your pulse and count the beats within one full minute for an accurate RHR count. The average RHR for a 30-year-old woman is between 60 and 80 BPM. Your RHR lowers with improved fitness and raises with increasing age.
Exercise Heart Rate
During cardiovascular exercise such as walking, cycling and swimming, your heart rate increases to meet your increased demands for oxygen. Your maximum heart rate, MHR, is the fastest your heart should beat during exercise. The MHR for a 30-year-old woman is 190 BPM, or 220 minus 30. Your exercise training heart rate is 60 to 80 percent of your MHR. At age 30, your training heart rate zone is 114 to 152 BPM.
Dr. Guladi's Method of Calculation
A study from Northwest Medicine, released in June of 2010, determined that the 220 training heart-rate formula placed women at too high of an exercise intensity level. Dr. Martha Guladi, a cardiologist at Northwestern Medicine, suggests a new exercise heart-rate formula for women. Guladi's formula subtracts 88 percent of your age from 206. Using Guladi's formula, your MHR is 179.6 BPM. Your training heart rate zone decreases to 108 to 144 BPM.
Using the Karvonen Formula
Another formula exists to determine your training heart rate range. The Karvonen formula uses your RHR in the calculation for a more personal heart rate range. Measure your RHR first thing in the morning for two or three days. Take the average of the measurements. Subtract your age from 220, which equals 190, then subtract your RHR. Multiply the result by 0.6 and add your RHR to this number to determine your low target heart rate zone. Multiply the result by 0.8 and add your RHR to determine your high target heart rate zone.
- Cleveland Clinic: Heart and Vascular Health and Prevention
- American Council on Exercise: Heart Rate Zone Calculator
- Northwestern University: First Accurate Peak Heart Rate for Women
- American Heart Association: Physical Activity and Blood Pressure -- How do I Calculate My Heart Rate?
- Sport Fitness Advisor: Heart Rate Reserve