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Maximize Your Health: The Importance of VO2 Max in Health and Longevity

Every year at The Rep Room, as the year come to a close and the distractions and demands on everyone’s time builds up, it can become harder and harder to keep consistent with regular fitness. To help our members keep accountable and motivated we run Rep Room Bingo!

Instead of having someone call out random number / letter combinations, everyone gets the same ‘card’ that has 25 fitness related ‘tasks’ to complete, earning entries into a draw from some pretty cool prizes at the end of the year.

This year, one of the squares requires the completion of a 2,000m row. Beyond simply creating a challenge for our members to complete, the 2,000 m row is one way to get an estimation of your VO2 max – the maximum amount of oxygen an individual can utilize during intense exercise.

In this post I’m going to explain what VO2 max is, why it’s an important number and how to improve it.

What is your VO2 Max?

VO2 max, or maximal oxygen uptake, is a measure of the maximum amount of oxygen that an individual can utilize during intense exercise. It is often used as a measure of cardiovascular fitness and is determined by the maximum amount of oxygen that the body can deliver to the muscles during exercise.

VO2 max is typically measured in milliliters of oxygen per minute per kilogram of body weight (ml/min/kg). It is determined by a combination of factors, including the efficiency of the respiratory system, the efficiency of the circulatory system, and the ability of the muscles to use oxygen.

Why is it important?

VO2 max is commonly used in exercise physiology and sports science to assess an individual’s aerobic fitness and to monitor training progress. It is also used in clinical settings to help identify and monitor cardiovascular health in patients and has been shown to be a strong predictor of mortality risk. Studies have found that individuals with lower VO2 max values are at an increased risk for premature death, particularly from cardiovascular disease.

One study, for example, followed over 2,000 men for an average of 15 years and found that those with the lowest VO2 max values had a 50% higher risk of death compared to those with the highest VO2 max values. Another study found that individuals with low VO2 max values were at an increased risk for death from all causes, including cancer and stroke.

VO2 max may be used as a predictor of mortality risk because it reflects the efficiency of the cardiovascular system, which is responsible for delivering oxygen to the muscles and other tissues in the body. A well-functioning cardiovascular system is essential for maintaining good health and reducing the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.

Improving your VO2 Max

Incorporate interval training: Interval training involves alternating periods of high-intensity exercise with periods of lower-intensity exercise. This type of training has been shown to be particularly effective at improving VO2 max. OTMs, Rounds, and specific work:rest training segments are one way we apply interval training.

Gradually increase the intensity and duration of your workouts: Gradually increasing the intensity and duration of your workouts over time can help improve VO2 max. It’s important to start at a level that is appropriate for your fitness level and gradually increase the intensity and duration of your workouts as your fitness improves.

Monitor your training: Keep track of your workouts and monitor your progress to ensure that you are training at the right intensity and duration to improve VO2 max.

Stay hydrated: Proper hydration is important for maintaining optimal cardiovascular function. Make sure to drink enough water before, during, and after your workouts.

It’s also important to note that genetics play a role in VO2 max, and some individuals may naturally have higher VO2 max values than others. However, with regular training, most individuals can improve their VO2 max.

For those who have completed the 2,000m row here is a link to calculator that will provide you with an estimation of your VO2 Max based on your rowing time

If you want to get started on building your VO2 max, improving your health and increasing all your able to get from this incredible adventure called life – lets connect!

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