Most of the time you should not look to google for answers to your health questions. Dr. Google will inevitably convince you that you’re dying of a rare disease. I’m not a doctor. You might be dying of a rare disease, but a human doctor should diagnose that, not a search engine.
This is my one exception. Google the question, “Is this different for women?”
You might be surprised.
For example, I wear a fitbit to track my physical activity. (What I like about wearing the fitbit is that it helps me be honest with myself about how much I’m actually moving and exercising – especially since I own a place where people go to exercise. It’s easy for me to tell myself I’m exercising every day when I’m only just showing up and helping other people exercise, but I digress). Anyway, for Christmas I upgraded to a fitbit that counted both my steps and tracks my heart rate, but I felt like nothing I was doing was registering as exercise. I mean, I know I’m not in the most amazing shape, but I’d like to think that the 30 minutes I’m spending on the elliptical counts as cardio exercise, right?
I mentioned this to a friend of mine who is in a great athlete, exercises a lot, understands the human body (in a went to medical school way), and wears a fitbit. She said, “Oh, it’s because the max heart rate setting on the fitbit is probably wrong. I had to adjust mine.”
She recommended I recalculate my max heart rate and that would probably fix things.
Enter google, and the search question: “Is the max heart rate calculation different for women?”
Yes. Yes, it is.
Traditionally, you would just calculate 220 – (your age) = max heart rate.
This is the calculation my fitbit was making, and it seems to very accurately gauge my husband’s activity.
I edited my settings with my heart rate using the Gulati method described here which is 206 – (.88 x your age) = max heart rate, and find that my perceived experience and my measured experience are much closer to each other.
I will also add that I am a big fan of listening to your body. For me listening and paying attention to what my body wants and needs is an important part of loving myself into a healthier lifestyle, so I think that the 10-Level Perceived Exertion Scale is a better place to start when you’re exercising rather than relying on biometric data to tell you how your workout is going.
But it is a lot less crazy making when you feel like your perceived exertion and what your heart rate seems to be doing are in agreement. And if they’re consistently seem to be out of sync, you should probably check with a real doctor. Cause Dr. Google is good for some things, but not everything.