Sports Medicine
A Crucial Period
Good Pain, Bad Pain
On Your Knees
Secondary Injuries
Imaging Technology
What's Sciatica?
The Female Athlete
Putting Your Feet First
Itis Schmitis
Too Much, Too Soon
Under the Influence
What's Goin' On?
Think Inches, Not Pounds
Preventing Vaginitis
That Painful Pull
Athlete's Heart
Exercise & Arthritis
Chilled to the Bone
Measuring Body Fat
Exercise and Your Breasts
Choosing a Sports Doctor
Lean on Me (Shoulder)
Exercise & Anemia
Exercise Abuse
Pelvis Sighting
Hand Aid
It's All in the Wrist
Back in Action
Altitude Adjustment
Tennis Elbow, Anyone?
Exercising in the Heat
Agony of the Feet
Restless Legs
Night Time Cramps
Birth Control Concerns
No Periods, No Babies?
Post Partum Prescription
Weight Loss Mystery
Undesirable Cooldown
To Brew Or Not To Brew
Fitness After Baby
Biking and Back Pain
Swimmer's Shoulder
A Hidden Athlete
Avoiding Osteoporosis
Drug Testing
Maximum Heart Rate
Headway Against Headaches
Torn Rotator Cuff
Fat Figures
Bloody Urine
Sag Story
Lackluster Leg
Bothersome Bulge
Gaining in Years
Taking It On the Shin
Aching Ankles
Hoop Help
Tender Toes
Meals For Muscle
Growing Pains
Hot Tips
High Altitude PMS
Personal Bests
Air Pollution
Ankle Blues
Heartbreak Heel
Yeast Relief

Maximum Heart Rate

Climbs Of The Heart

Q: I do aerobic dance and have often heard my instructors say that if your heart rate goes over your maximum training rate - 90 percent of your maximum heart rate - you start burning heart muscle. What does this really mean, and what are the short- and long-term effects of this happening?

Also, on occasion, someone will exceed what is supposed to be their maximum heart rate, to which the automatic response is "you're dead." What does "maximum heart rate" really mean, how can a person go over their maximum (without dying!), and what are the implications of going over? C.B. Minneapolis, MN

A: It is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to damage a healthy heart with exercise. You do not burn or otherwise damage healthy heart muscle by exceeding 90 percent of your estimated maximum heart rate (MHR). Otherwise, there would be many more elite athletes, who daily push their heart rate to extremes, suffering heart damage.

Your true MHR is the highest pulse rate you can attain during all-out effort, so by definition, it is impossible to exceed this limit. Your MHR is most accurately determined during an exercise stress test, when you run on a treadmill and are connected to an electrocardiogram that measures your pulse during maximal exertion, The easy way to estimate your MHR is to subtract your age from 220.

But this is only an estimate. Because we are all unique human beings of different ages and levels of fitness, our maximum heart rates can vary considerably. As we get older, our maximum heart rate slows down.

Also, regular training has the effect of lowering your maximum heart rate, as well as your resting heart rate. This is because your heart, like other muscles you exercise, becomes stronger and more efficient, pumping a greater volume of blood with each beat.

How can you effectively improve your cardiovascular fitness?

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Table of Contents

Foreword: Billie Jean King

Comments by Barb Harris
Editor in Chief,
Shape Magazine

General Health
Common Medical Problems
Dental Health
Infectious Disease
Sexual Health
Emotional Well-Being
Eating Disorders
Alcohol & Other Drugs
Environmental Health

The information in this web site is for educational purposes only and is not providing medical or professional advice. It should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease. It is not a substitute for professional medical care. If you have or suspect you might have any health problems, you should consult a physician.

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