As a typical human being, we take in roughly 20,000 breaths each day, depending on our age, physical activity, and overall health. Your body’s ability to efficiently or inefficiently intake and process oxygen determines how easy exercise may feel and, of course, the more efficient your oxygen uptake, the better your overall cardiovascular health standing.
That’s why anyone serious about exercise and fitness should consider taking a VO2 Max Test an effective and telling form of metabolic testing. A VO2 Max Test, also known as your ‘Cardiorespiratory Fitness (CRF),’ measures the volume (V) of oxygen (O2) you consume during exercise. It is a great tool to use at the beginning of a long-term exercise program to set a baseline of your body’s performance and true fitness level. In fact, within the last couple of years, the American Heart Association published an official statement suggesting clinicians regularly measure VO2 Max (CRF) and consider it a vital sign. It can be retaken throughout the exercise program to determine how well your body is utilizing oxygen and your overall cardiorespiratory fitness.
During your VO2 Max test, your oxygen consumption and carbon dioxide production are measured, along with your heart rate. Through a variety of analytics, this determines your target heart rate training zone and how well your body is using the air you are breathing to oxygenate your muscles.
The test helps measure how efficient these three major body functions utilize the oxygen we breathe.
- Lung capacity and heart volume: The more oxygen your lungs can take in and the more oxygenated blood your heart can pump, the higher your VO2 score.
- Capillary delivery: The more oxygenated blood your circulatory system can transport to your muscles, the higher your VO2 score.
- Muscle efficiency: The more your muscles can extract and use oxygen from your blood, the higher your VO2 score.
Conducted in and available at every Live Lean Rx location, the 10-to-20-minute test involves running on a treadmill or riding a stationary bike at increased intervals of speed and incline to elevate your heart rate. You’ll be wearing a facemask connected to a computer that analyzes your intake of oxygen and outtake of carbon dioxide from inhaled and exhaled air. You’ll also wear a small, comfortable monitor to record your heart rate.
How to prepare for your VO2 Max Test
All you need to prepare for the test is to wear comfortable workout clothes, refrain from exercise for 24 hours before the test, and don’t eat, drink alcohol, use tobacco, or consume caffeine for three hours before you arrive for your test.
What to expect during and after your test
The exercise technicians performing the test will be looking to see when your body’s oxygen consumption remains steady even though the exercise is increasing (faster speeds and higher inclines).
After your 10-15 minute test on the treadmill (or ride on the stationary bike), the exercise technicians will then analyze the data and you’ll get a VO2 Max score. This number expresses how much oxygen your body was consuming during peak exercise – testing the performance of your heart, lungs and circulatory system.
On average, most VO2 Max scores range between 27 and 50, with the average sedentary male around 35 to 40 and average sedentary female scoring 27 to 30. This number is a calculation of your milliliters of oxygen consumed per minute per kilogram of body weight (ml/min/kg).
Scores can improve with additional exercise training and, of course, are impacted by factors of age, gender, and the altitude of where you live. Remember, the higher the altitude, the thinner the air. So if you are wanting to take even more advantage of those 20,000 daily breaths, a VO2 Max test may just be the ticket to see how oxygen-efficient your body really is.