How Fit Are You? VO2 Max Has the Answer
Students get report cards and test scores to measure their academic performance. When you drive, your car’s dashboard features a range of metrics and gauges providing real-time details on engine performance.
For your body’s physical performance, there is maximal oxygen consumption, known as VO2 max — V is for volume, and O2 represents the O2
oxygen symbol. VO2 max quantifies the maximum amount of oxygen an individual can turn into energy per unit of time during the highest level of exercise intensity. The VO2 max measurement is widely considered to be the gold standard of physical assessment tools, providing a wealth of valuable information about an individual’s level of cardio-respiratory fitness and aerobic endurance
During exercise or other physical activity, as you increase the intensity of your effort, your muscles require more oxygen to keep up. The heart must beat faster to ensure an adequate supply of oxygen-rich blood is pumped out into the circulatory system to re-supply the muscles. At a higher fitness level, you will have a higher rate of aerobic metabolism; that is, you will be able to convert a larger volume of oxygen into energy up to a maximum point, which is your individual VO2 max.
How VO2 Max is Measured
The VO2 max test can be conducted either on a treadmill or a stationary bicycle. Most people choose the treadmill, but the bicycle can be used for those who prefer it. A breathing mask worn during the test is hooked up to the DYNOSTICS equipment, which measures the rate and contents of the air being breathed out through the mask.
The test takes about 15 minutes, and the speed and resistance are increased gradually every two to three minutes until you reach your maximum exertion level, which is your VO2 max. For most people, it is also the point when lactate (also called lactic acid
) build-up in muscles reaches a level that begins to affect muscle performance.
Not Only for Athletes
VO2 max is a well-known metric among athletes and sports trainers. The test is used widely by national sports teams and during Olympics training. It’s certainly a useful test for amateur and professional athletes, as well student-athletes competing in high school sports, for gradually improving one’s fitness and performance over time.
system used has two modes — one for athletes, and the other for non-athletes. Even if you're not physically active, you may want to have your VO2 max tested to see exactly where your fitness level is currently. With the data from the test, a full assessment can be done, with the option of creating a personalized nutrition plan
or a personalized training plan designed to help improve your overall level of fitness.
The VO2 max test is also useful for post-operative patients who are preparing for physical therapy
and those resuming fitness activities after recovering from injury
or surgery. The initial test establishes a baseline fitness level, and the test can then be redone at intervals of perhaps three or six months to assess the extent of progress.
No Major Restrictions or Preparations
Essentially no preparation is required before the VO2 max test. We simply ask that you don't eat three hours before the test and come dressed as you would to exercise. It’s also recommended that you not drink a large amount of water right before the test.
The VO2 max test requires physical exertion. Having the test supervised by a team of sports science experts, including a doctor and professional support staff, provides an added measure of safety and peace of mind.
To Learn More
For more information about VO2 max
testing and current promotions, contact the Vitallife Scientific Wellness Center
at Bumrungrad International Hospital. Tel: +66 (0) 2066 8899;
E-mail: [email protected]
Dr. Alisara (Amy) Arirachakaran is an orthopedic surgeon and sports science specialist at Bumrungrad International Hospital and the Sports and Lifestyle Clinic at the Vitallife Scientific Wellness Center