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Blood Pressure 

Introduction

The function of the heart is to circulate blood around the body. The heart comprises of four chambers:

  • Right Atrium
  • Left Atrium
  • Right Ventricle
  • Left Ventricle

Functionally the heart comprises of two pumps:

  • The right atrium receives blood from from the the body (de-oxygenated blood) and the right ventricle pumps it into the lungs for aeration (removal of carbon dioxide and add oxygen).
  • The left atrium receives the oxygenated blood from the lungs and the left ventricle pumps it around the body.

Blood Pressure

The cardiac cycle (heart beat) consists of cardiac muscle contraction (systole) and cardiac muscle relaxation (diastole).

Blood pressure represents the force (pressure) exerted by blood against the arterial walls during a cardiac cycle. Systolic blood pressure, the higher of the two pressure measurements, occurs during ventricular contraction (systole) as the heart pumps blood into the aorta.

After systole, the ventricles relax (diastole), arterial pressure declines and the heart refills with blood. The lowest pressure reached during ventricular relaxation represents the diastolic blood pressure.

Normal systolic blood pressure in an adult varies between 110 and 140 mm Hg, and diastolic pressure varies between 60 and 90 mm Hg.

Blood Pressure Classification

Systolic (mm Hg) Diastolic (mm Hg) Classification
<130 <85 Normal
130-139 85-89 High Normal
140-159 90-99 Hypertension (stage 1)
160-179 100-109 Moderate Hypertension (stage 2)
180-209 110-119 Severe Hypertension (stage 3)
>209 >119 Very Severe Hypertension (stage 4


 

Overview

Athletes who use a heart rate monitor as a training aid need to identify their maximum heart rate in order to determine their appropriate training zones.

Calculation of Maximum Heart Rate

The easiest and best known method to calculate your maximum heart rate (MHR) is to use the formula 220-age. A paper by Londeree and Moeschberger from the University of Missouri-Columbia indicates that the MHR varies mostly with age, but the relationship is not a linear one. They suggest an alternative formula of 206.3 - (0.711 * age). Similarly, Miller et al from Indiana University propose the formula 217- (0.85 * age) as a suitable formula to calculate MHR.

Londeree and Moeschberger also looked at other variables to see if they had any effect on the MHR. They found that neither sex or race make any difference but they did find that the MHR was effected by the activity and levels of fitness.

Studies have shown that MHR on a treadmill is consistently 5-6 beats higher than on a bicycle ergometer and 2-3 beats higher on a rowing ergometer. Heart rates while swimming are significantly lower, around 14 bpm, than for treadmill running. Elite endurance athletes and moderately trained individuals will have a MHR 3 or 4 beats slower than a sedentary individual. It was also found that well trained over 50s are likely to have a higher MHR than that which is average for their age.

To determine your maximum heart rate you could use the following which combines the Miller formula with the research from Londeree and Moeschberger.

  • Use the Miller formula of MHR = 217 - (0.85 * age) to calculate MHR
  • Use this MHR value for running training
  • Subtract 3 beats for rowing training
  • Subtract 5 beats for bicycle training
  • Subtract 3 beats for elite athletes under 30
  • Add 2 beats for 50 year old elite athletes
  • Add 4 beats for 55+ year old elite athletes

Calculator

Based on the above approach the following calculator will calculate your Maximum Heart Rate.

Enter your type of training, age, experience and then select the "Calculate" button.

Training Age Experience
     
MHR = bpm  

% MHR and %VO2 Max

It is possible to estimate your exercise intensity as a percentage of VO2 Max from your training heart rate. David Swain (1994) and his US based research team using statistical procedures examined the relationship between %MHR and %VO2 Max. Their results led to the following regression equation :

  • %MHR=0.64 * %VO2 Max + 37

The relationship has been shown to hold true across sex, age and activity.

Calculator

The following calculator will do the conversion for you. Enter a value, select the parameter (MHR or VO2 max) and then select the "Calculate" button.

Value = %
   
= %

Associated Journals and Books

The following journals and books contain more information on this topic:

  • Peak Performance - Issue 27, page 8
  • Peak Performance - Issues 104 page 5,6, & 7
  • Londeree and Moeschberger (1982) 'Effect of age and other factors on HR max' - Research Quarterly for Exercise & Sport, 53(4), 297-304
  • Swain et al (1994) 'Target HR for the development of CV fitness' - Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 26(1), 112-116
  • Miller et al (1993) - 'Predicting max HR' - Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 25(9), 1077-1081

 

Introduction

Fitness can be measured by the volume of oxygen you can consume while exercising at your maximum capacity. VO2 max is the maximum amount of oxygen in milliliters, one can use in one minute per kilogram of body weight. Those who are more fit have higher VO2 max values and can exercise more intensely than those who are not as well conditioned. Numerous studies show that you can increase your VO2 max by working out at an intensity that raises your heart rate to between 65 and 85 per cent of its maximum for at least 20 minutes three to five times a week. A mean value of VO2 max for male athletes is about 3.5 litres/minute and for female athletes it is about 2.7 litres/minute.

Factors affecting VO2 max

The physical limitations that restrict the rate at which energy can be released aerobically are dependent upon:

  • the chemical ability of the muscular cellular tissue system to use oxygen in breaking down fuels
  • the combined ability of cardiovascular and pulmonary systems to transport the oxygen to the muscular tissue system

Improving your VO2 max

The following are samples of Astrands (a work physiologists) workouts for improving oxygen uptake :

  • (1) - Run at maximum speed for 5 minutes. Note the distance covered in that time. Let us assume that the distance achieved is 1900 metres. Rest for five minutes, and then run the distance (1900m) 20% slower, in other words in six minutes, with 30 seconds rest, repeated many times. This is equal to your 10K pace
  • (2) - Run at maximum speed for four minutes. Note the distance covered in that time. Rest for four minutes. In this case we will assume the you run a distance of 1500m. Now run the same distance 15% slower, in other words in 4 minutes 36 seconds, with 45 seconds rest, repeated several times. This approximates to a time between the athlete's 5K and 10K time
  • (3) - Run at maximum effort for three minute. Note the distance covered in that time. The distance covered is, say 1000m. Successive runs at that distance are taken 10% slower or at 3 minutes 18 seconds, with 60 seconds rest, repeated several times. This approximates to your 5K time
  • (4) - Run at maximum effort for five minutes. Note the distance covered in that time. The distance covered is 1900m. Rest five minutes. The distance is now covered 5% slower with one and a half minutes rest. This is approximately 3K pace for you, i.e., five minutes 15 seconds/1900m
  • (5) - Run at maximum effort for three minutes. The distance covered is 1100m. When recovered, he runs the same distance 5 per cent slower, i.e., three minutes nine seconds/1100m, with one minute rest, repeated several times. This is at 3K pace

When and how often

It is suggested that in the winter sessions (1) and (2) are done weekly, and in the track season sessions (3), (4) and (5) are done weekly by runners from 800m to the half-marathon. Although it would be convenient to use the original distance marks made by the duration efforts, this doesn't take into account the athlete's condition before each session, so the maximum effort runs must be done on each occasion when they may be either more or less than the previous distance run. The maximum duration efforts are in themselves quality sessions. If the pulse rate has not recovered to 120 beats per minute in the rest times given, the recovery period should be extended before the repetitions are started. The recovery times between the reps should be strictly adhered to. These workouts make a refreshing change from repetition running. When all four sessions are completed within a month, experience shows substantial improvements in performance.

Ideal VO2 max scores for various sports

Vo2 max Sport
>75 ml/kg/min Endurance Runners and Cyclists
65 ml/kg/min Squash
60-65 ml/kg/min Football (male)
55 ml/kg/min Rugby
50 ml/kg/min Volleyball (female)
50 ml/kg/min Baseball (male)

VO2 max Tests

An estimate of your VO2 max can be determined using the following tests:

VO2 max Assessment

The VO2 max assessment is based on the Cooper VO2 max tables and comprises of the following grades: Very Poor, Poor, Fair, Good, Excellent and Superior.

For an evaluation of your VO2 max select the age group and gender, enter your VO2 max and then select the 'Calculate' button.

Age Gender Vo2max ml/kg/min
   
Assessment -  

% MHR and %VO2 Max

It is possible to estimate your exercise intensity as a percentage of VO2 Max from your training heart rate. David Swain (1994) and his US based research team using statistical procedures examined the relationship between %MHR and %VO2 Max. Their results led to the following regression equation :

  • %MHR=0.64 * %VO2 Max + 37

The relationship has been shown to hold true across sex, age and activity.

Calculator

The following calculator will do the conversion for you. Enter a value, select the parameter (MHR or VO2 max) and then select the "Calculate" button.

Value = %
   
= %
 


By kind permission of:
Brian Mackenzie - (United Kingdom) UK Athletics Senior Track and Field Coach (UKA4)
www.brianmac.demon.co.uk


 


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Copyright 2000 Fitnwell, UK
Wednesday September 08, 2010 10:13:23

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This is the home of Physical Training & Fitness - 'Fitnwell' - It is hoped that you enjoy your time here and that you find something of interest. Do let me know if you have any queries, and also your feedback.