220 – age

Reported on Health Unlocked

18-11-08 HU


A forum member reported  that a doctor  had suggested at a conference that exercise is a good idea, but if the HR goes above 220 – your age, you should stop.

This adds to my thoughts that the medical profession has no idea how to treat athletes with AF.  Firstly, I have to assume that the doctor was considering 220-age to be Max HR, which is nonsense.  If this is the case, their advice is that a high intensity level of exercise is not a bad thing unless (until) you have an AF attack, so I should be allowed an HR up to my previously tested max HR of 187 (20 beats above the 220-age calculation).

My cardiologist suggested that I am OK to exercise hard, but had forbidden me from taking part in racing or interval training.  I have translated this to mean that I should keep my HR below 165, my previously defined aerobic limit.

165 is actually 220 minus my age, but this is entirely a coincidence.  On the plus side, either way, I am not pushing myself too hard.

2 thoughts on “220 – age

  1. Hi John, as with you I am constantly considering where to draw the line with my level of intensity. My problem is that my heart rate seems to be very responsive to my effort level and goes quite high even at low levels of RPE, which then makes me think I should back off, even though I’m not working excessively hard.
    As an example, running at 6min/km my HR is already around 150. I can run 5km at an average of 5min/km and while I am breathing hard I am fairly comfortable and running nowhere near as hard as I would be if I was doing intervals. At this faster pace my HR can easily get up in the 180’s, which is way higher than that ridiculous formula suggests is my max. 220-55=165.


    • I had that before my ablation. I saw it as a faulty feedback loop. I would go up hill, so my body produced adrenaline to make my heart beat faster. My heart wasn’t working efficiently, so I would produce more adrenaline. it would beat faster, but with even less efficiency until it was racing, there was little oxygen getting through and I had to stop and recover


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