What is the maximum heart rate (MHR)?

Maximum heart rate is the maximum number of beats made by your heart in 1 minute of effort. When walking quickly, you will be in an endurance zone, with a heart rate of between 60% and 75% of your maximum heart rate (MHR). Knowing your rate means listening to your body. This is the procedure.



• The Astrand method

The calculation is simple with this method: 226 minus your age for women, 220 minus your age for men. 

Let's say you are 35 and you're a woman. Your maximum heart rate will be 191 beats per minute. To stay in the endurance zone, between 60% and 75% of your MHR, the number of heart beats during your session will range from 115 to 143 (191x60%=115, 191x75%=143).

This is a simple method, which provides a good indication, but there is a more precise and reliable method.

• The Karvonen method

This method uses your resting heart rate (the number of heart beats you measure when you wake up in the morning). 

Let's say this time that you are still a 35-year-old woman, with a resting heart rate of 50 beats per minute. You should deduct your resting heart rate from your MHR. This gives you 141 beats. 

Using this number, do the same calculation as before and you get the following figures: 85 and 106 (141x60%=85, 141x75%=106). Add your resting heart rate to get your endurance zone. During exercise, your heart should beat between 135 and 156 times per minute. 



During high-intensity effort on a fitness walking session, your body will have greater oxygen needs. That's why the heart beat increases and the maximum heart rate is reached when the oxygen produced by your heart is no longer sufficient to supply your muscles. 

When you go beyond the endurance zone, the muscles no longer get a correct supply of oxygen, which is necessary for taking advantage of all the benefits of fitness walking, as sports doctor Charles Aisenberg explains. 

The good news is that during fitness walking, you are in the endurance zone most of the time, and that is why this sport is seen as the ideal physical activity. 

How can you work out your number of heart beats per minute?

When at rest or taking a temporary break from your session, check your pulse to see if you are still in the endurance zone. To do this, place 2 fingers under your jaw, along your windpipe. An artery beats, so you just have to count the number of beats of this artery in one minute. 

You can also wear a heart rate monitor, a device that shows you which zone you are in.

Top tip

MHR also depends on a number of factors, such as fatigue, diet or tobacco consumption. 2 people with an identical maximum heart rate according to the 2 suggested methods will have a different resting heart rate. If you wish to get a precise reading for your MHR, we recommend asking your doctor to conduct an exercise test!

Knowing your endurance heart rate when you walk is important, both for those who wish to accelerate and for beginners. Don't forget that you should never feel breathless during your session. If you do, or if you experience any chest pains or headaches, stop and rest!