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Why does age make a difference when calculating heart rate?

Many factors can make a difference in an individual’s heart rate such as age, weight, height, medications, and level of conditioning. To find a person's maximum heart rate, the universal formula used is 220-age. This formula is derived from the assumption that an average person is born with a heart rate of 220 beats per minute. This rate will decrease one beat per minute every year. Using these assumptions, a 50 year old individual will have an estimated maximum heart rate of 170 beats per minute. Keep in mind that maximum heart rate calculations are only estimates and can vary between individuals of the same age. Medications can also play a role in heart rate. If you are taking any medication, consult with your doctor before beginning an exercise program.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.