If you want to run faster or further and make it feel more effortless than it usually does, then one way to achieve this is to increase your VO2 max. Before you start getting puzzled, let's break it down and get into its science to understand what VO2 max means and its importance.
V = Volume
O2 = Oxygen
Max = Maximum
VO2 max is the measure of how much oxygen your body can utilize during maximum effort. It describes the maximum rate at which your body can import oxygen and transport it into the muscles, where it is used to transform nutrients into energy aerobically. VO2 max is reported as ml/kg/min, and it is the defining metric of cardiorespiratory fitness or popularly known as aerobic fitness. The higher your VO2 max, the more effective your body is in using oxygen and the better your cardiorespiratory factor of cardio fitness.
For example - A typical VO2 max for a 30-year-old man is between 40ml/kg/min - 47ml/kg/min. But if he is in abysmal shape, his VO2 max might lower down to 27ml/kg/min, and if he is super fit, then his VO2 max might level up to 60ml/kg/min.
You can check your VO2 max using our calculator below by clicking on the link. It would help you to figure out the rough estimation of your VO2 max using Copper endurance test.
Importance of VO2 max
Your VO2 max depends on many predefined factors and can be influenced by your activities. It typically declines with age, and women have lower VO2 max values than men. Also, genetics influences your VO2 max, both the baseline and trainability. However, everyone can significantly improve their VO2 max by performing aerobic exercises. Increasing your VO2 max will improve your endurance performance like running and cycling.
But it's not just that; VO2 max is an excellent indicator of your overall health. A low VO2 max is associated with a higher level of cardiovascular disease and mortality rate. According to the American Heart Association, cardiorespiratory fitness is a better indicator of mortality than many other risk factors such as smoking, higher cholesterol, and hypertension.
Benefits of Boosting Your VO2 max
Exercise is a well-known way to unwind after a long day, but a higher level of fitness would prevent physiological stress from building up in the first place. According to research, people who are more physically active have less physiological stress and are more resilient to stress when it does occur.
It should come as no surprise that your VO2max, as the defining metric of aerobic efficiency, influences how well you perform in various sports. Though aerobic fitness is essential for endurance activities like running and cycling, it also plays a role in sports like soccer, basketball, and every other activity that causes you to gasp for air. According to research with recreational runners, a 5% improvement in VO2max fitness results in a 5-minute reduction in 10k running times.
While ageing is unavoidable, regular exercise and an active lifestyle will protect you from many of its side effects. It's no coincidence that the same activities that improve your fitness often help you lose weight, keep your bones solid, and keep your brain safe. Higher VO2max levels have also been related to a lower risk of dementia and Alzheimer's disease in several studies. And among those who haven't been involved in the past, research shows that it's never too late to reap the benefits of daily exercise.
How To Boost Your VO2 max?
Your VO2 max tends to decline as you age, but there are certain things you can do in your capacity to slow down the declination and keep up your VO2 max levels at their best according to your age.
You can increase your VO2 max by performing exercises that test your cardiovascular system daily and gradually increase the volume and strength of your endurance training. Running, walking, swimming, and rowing are also good examples of full-body rhythmic movements. To keep the body challenged, it's necessary to vary the type of endurance training.
High intensity interval training, which consists of quick bursts of intense exercise followed by short rest periods, is another common way to boost your VO2 max.
The Bottom Line
VO2 max levels show how well your body uses oxygen which sets the benchmark for your aerobic fitness levels. For athletes, prioritizing VO2 max levels is a necessity to assess your fitness and improve your performance. Also, VO2 max shows the quality of your life and to live a healthy and long life; you should track and maintain VO2 max levels.