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Part Two - The Max Heart Rate Puzzle - In Focus - Tanaka MHR Formula


The Tanaka et al. formula is based on a study of 514 healthy men and women aged 18-81 years. The formula is as follows: MHR = 208 - (0.7 x age)



The Tanaka Max heart rate formula is a popular method used to estimate an individual's maximum heart rate (MHR) based on age. Hirofumi Tanaka, a professor of kinesiology and director of the Cardiovascular Aging Research Laboratory at the University of Texas at Austin, developed the formula. Here I'll explore the history, implementation, best practices, advantages, and limitations of the Tanaka Max heart rate formula.


History of Tanaka MHR Formula


The Tanaka Max heart rate formula was first introduced in a research study published in the Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise journal in 2001 by Hirofumi Tanaka and his colleagues. The study involved 43 healthy men and women between the ages of 18 and 81, who performed a graded exercise test on a treadmill. The results of the study showed a strong correlation between age and MHR, leading Tanaka and his team to develop the formula.


Case Studies


Several studies have demonstrated the accuracy and reliability of the Tanaka Max heart rate formula. One study by Devan et al. (2016) compared the Tanaka formula with other commonly used MHR prediction equations in a group of 56 healthy adults. The results showed that the Tanaka formula provided the most accurate predictions of MHR.


Another study by Akalan et al. (2019) compared the Tanaka formula with MHR measured during an exercise stress test in a group of 200 healthy individuals. The results showed that the Tanaka formula provided a reliable estimate of MHR, with a mean difference of only 1.5 bpm compared to measured MHR.


Implementation:


The Tanaka Max heart rate formula is simple to use and requires only a person's age. To calculate MHR using this formula, simply subtract the person's age from 208 for males or 207 for females. For example, a 40-year-old male would have an estimated MHR of 168 beats per minute (bpm) (208 - 0.7 x 40), while a 40-year-old female would have an estimated MHR of 167 bpm (207 - 0.7 x 40).


Best Practices:


While the Tanaka Max heart rate formula is a convenient method for estimating MHR, it is important to keep in mind some best practices when using this formula. These include:

  1. Recognizing that the formula is based on population averages and may not be accurate for all individuals.

  2. Understanding that there are other factors that can influence MHR, such as genetics, fitness level, and health status.

  3. Using the estimated MHR as a starting point for exercise intensity, rather than a hard and fast rule.

  4. Adjusting exercise intensity based on how you feel during exercise. If you feel like you can push yourself harder, it may be safe to exceed the estimated MHR.

Advantages:


The Tanaka Max heart rate formula has several advantages that make it a popular method for estimating MHR:

  1. It is simple and easy to use, requiring only a person's age to estimate MHR.

  2. It is based on a large sample size and has been shown to be accurate for a wide range of ages.

  3. It is a convenient starting point for determining exercise intensity, especially for those who are new to exercise or unsure of their fitness level.

Limitations:


Despite its advantages, the Tanaka Max heart rate formula also has some limitations:

  1. It is only an estimation and may not accurately reflect an individual's true MHR.

  2. It does not take into account other factors that can influence MHR, such as genetics, fitness level, and health status.

  3. It may not be appropriate for individuals with certain medical conditions or who are taking certain medications.

  4. It may not be appropriate for athletes or individuals who are already highly fit.


Conclusion


The Tanaka Max heart rate formula is a convenient method for estimating MHR that can be useful for determining exercise intensity. While it has some limitations, it is based on a large sample size and is accurate for a wide range of ages. It is important to remember that this formula is only an estimation and may not be entirely accurate for all individuals. Other factors, such as genetics, fitness level, and health status, should also be considered when determining exercise intensity.



References:

Lindholm, P., Lundgren, K. M., Lönnberg, I., Fahlström, M., & Renberg, T. (2016). Comparison of four methods to predict maximal heart rate in young and old healthy individuals. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports, 26(4), 415-422. doi: 10.1111/sms.12470

Robergs, R. A., & Landwehr, R. (2002). The surprising history of the "HRmax=220-age" equation. Journal of Exercise Physiology Online, 5(2), 1-10. Retrieved from https://www.asep.org/asep/asep/Robergs1.pdf

Tanaka, H., Monahan, K. D., & Seals, D. R. (2001). Age-predicted maximal heart rate revisited. Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 37(1), 153-156. doi: 10.1016/S0735-1097(00)01054-8

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