Understanding VO2 Max may be overwhelming for the ordinary person. Its name alone may find people asking many questions, but it's actually easy to understand.
Whether you've heard of the term VO2 Max before or not, it's a vital fitness measure to learn about. Finding your maximum oxygen capacity tells a lot about how fit and healthy you are. As such, it's also an excellent measurement to monitor if you want to improve your fitness.
But why exactly is it important? Here are five reasons you should be concerned about your VO2 Max level.
What Is VO2 Max?
Do you ever wonder why strenuous activities like exercise make you breathe much deeper and quicker?
During the respiratory cycle, you intake oxygen, which gets into your blood when you breathe in. When your heart beats to circulate blood, the oxygen gets delivered to your muscles. This becomes fuel for chemical reactions that provide your muscles with energy. The more energy your muscles need, the more oxygen it requires.
VO2 Max indicates the capacity of your body to absorb and use oxygen. It's the maximum volume of oxygen you can consume that would be distributed into muscles and other parts of the body.
Since the body needs oxygen to function, knowing your VO2 Max can indicate how much your body can handle. It also measures how well your heart and lungs function. Usually, a higher VO2 Max points to better physical fitness.
Think of your VO2 Max score as an overall health baseline.
How Is VO2 Max Calculated?
To accurately measure your VO2 Max, you must go to a medical facility with the proper equipment. Such equipment usually includes a heart monitor and a comfortable face mask for air.
The test is usually supervised by a physician (such as a cardiologist) or a licensed fitness specialist. It involves using specific graded testing protocols, including exercises on a treadmill or upright bicycle.
The monitoring devices used in such tests record how your body responds to increasing exercise intensity levels and how well your heart and lungs work, among others.
5 Reasons You Should Be Concerned About VO2 Max
There are numerous reasons you should be mindful of your VO2 Max level, all of which are interrelated. These include the following:
1. May Indicate Respiratory Health
VO2 Max is primarily concerned with the functions of your cardiovascular and respiratory systems. It is concerned with how well they work and how well they do so together.
As such, healthy VO2 Max levels indicate that these systems are working together in your body like a well-oiled machine. If it's the opposite, poor VO2 Max levels may point out shortcomings or problems in your heart and lung health.
2. May Measure Athletic Performance
If you're an athlete, you might already know how important knowing your VO2 Max is. Since most sports call for intense activity, your maximum oxygen consumption may improve your performance significantly. This is especially true for runners, swimmers, and cyclists. By improving your VO2 Max, you can also enhance your athletic performance.
3. Linked to Mental Health
Some studies have linked VO2 Max levels to one's mental health. According to one study, a link between low VO2 Max levels and elevated depressive symptoms has been observed among middle-aged men.
4. Good Benchmark for Overall Health
Your maximum oxygen consumption can be considered a reflection of your overall physical fitness and health. Higher VO2 Max levels have been linked to reduced risk of developing cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and cancer.
5. Higher VO2 Max May Improve Longevity
Since it's a good indicator of overall health, it's no wonder higher VO2 Max levels have been linked to improved longevity. Simply put, improving your maximum oxygen consumption can help you live longer.
According to a 2018 study, increasing your VO2 Max level improves your cardiorespiratory function and helps ease up maintaining your health in the long run.
On top of this, it also helps lower stress levels and boosts your immune system.
How to Improve Your VO2 Max
The more apparent answer many experts will provide for this question is exercise. It would be best if you moved more to train your body to increase its capacity to use oxygen.
There are two types of exercise that you can do to do this: high-intensity interval training(HIIT) and low-intensity training.
- Performing the exercise as hard as you can for a short period
- Repeating both phases for several rounds
Meanwhile, low-intensity training involves less strenuous exercise that you can perform for a more extended period. While it's less effective in improving your VO2 Max, you can do this type of exercise daily since it's less punishing on the body.
An often overlooked way to improve your maximum oxygen consumption is nutrition. Nutrition is a key factor in how our bodies work, including physical fitness.
Supplementing your diet with the right vitamins and minerals can help protect your body against inflammation. This may help minimize the pain and fatigue you feel and make you less prone to injuries. As such, it promotes moving more, contributing to an improvement in your VO2 Max level.
If you need a little push, XND’s Extreme Endurance is tested and proven to improve VO2 Max. Learn more about how this supplement can help you in this video:
Besides exercise and nutrition, it would help to practice proper breathing. After all, your respiratory system is part of your training to increase your VO2 Max.
Learning and practicing how to breathe correctly from the diaphragm contributes to increased lung volume capacity. Breathing exercises also help a person keep stress and anxiety at bay, which is a plus in increasing your VO2.
A Reflection on Your Health
While it may sound technical, watching out for one's VO2 Max isn't reserved for fitness buffs and professional athletes. Even non-fitness enthusiasts can benefit from understanding and watching their maximum oxygen consumption.
VO2 Max is a good indicator of someone's fitness; luckily, it's not set in stone. You can improve it in a combination of ways and reap its benefits in the long run.
It's still possible to start if you haven't. Work towards improving your VO2 Max and becoming fitter and healthier today!