At one time or another we've all experienced an "OMG I feel like I'm going to die" moment while working out. Our heart feels like it's bursting from our chest, we're sweating buckets, and our bodies feel like rubber. Well, ladies, we may have been working out too hard. A new study from Northwestern Medicine says that the formula women have been using for decades to calculate their peak heart rate is wrong, and results in a number that is too high. This standard formula is what heart rate monitors, whether portable or built into cardio equipment, base calculations on for determining different workout zones. And if you use these devices to determine the pace of your workout, you're working harder than you need to.
Using the standard heart rate formula, you subtract your age from 220 to determine your maximum heart rate. But under the new formula — based on a study of 5,437 healthy women ages 35 and older — you subtract 88 percent of your age from 206. It's a little trickier, but nothing that can't be done on a calculator. While the difference in heart rates between the formulas isn't enough to send anyone into cardiac arrest, it's still significant. Having a more accurate reflection of our peak heart rate means we can adjust our workouts, which will give us more endurance before burning out. And for those of us that gauge workouts and heart health this way, the new formula takes on even more significance.