Maximum heart rates vary significantly between individuals. Even within a single elite sports team, such as Olympic rowers in their 20s, maximum heart rates have been reported as varying from 160 to 220. Such a variation would equate to a 60 or 90 year age gap in the linear equations above, and would seem to indicate the extreme variation about these average figures.
Figures are generally considered averages, and depend greatly on individual physiology and fitness. For example an endurance runner's rates will typically be lower due to the increased size of the heart required to support the exercise, while a sprinter's rates will be higher due to the improved response time and short duration. While each may have predicted heart rates of 180 (= 220 − age), these two people could have actual HRmax 20 beats apart (e.g., 170-190).
Further, note that individuals of the same age, the same training, in the same sport, on the same team, can have actual HRmax 60 bpm apart (160–220): the range is extremely broad, and some say "The heart rate is probably the least important variable in comparing athletes."
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