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This article is about the topic VO2Max. For the Show & Tell talk see VO2Max (Show and Tell Talk).

VO2 max (also known as maximal oxygen consumption/update or maximal aerobic capacity) is the maximum rate at which oxygen is consumed during exercise of increasing intensity. The name comes from the volume (V), oxygen (O2) and maximum (max)[1] .

VO2 max is used as a way to quantify the endurance fitness of a person, as the oxygen consumption reflects cardiorespiratory fitness and endurance capacity. The American Heart Association recommended VO2 max to be regularly assessed as a clinical vital sign[2]

Additionally, VO2 max is used widely by athletes and in evaluating fitness.

Typically, VO2 max is measured either in mL/kg/min or in "METs" (Metabolic equivalent of task), where a MET is equal to 3.5 mL/kg/min – which is considered to be the average resting energy the body uses when sitting still.[3]

Measuring VO2 max[edit | edit source]

Clinical measurements[edit | edit source]

The most accurate way of measuring VO2 max is through a "graded exercise test" on a treadmill or cycle ergometer, in which the exercise intensity is increased over time while measuring the persons ventilation alongside the oxygen and carbon dioxide concentration in the inhaled/exhaled air. When the oxygen consumption remains steady despite an increase in work, the VO2 max is reached.

Given the equipment requirements, these tests are not easily accessible and require extensive setup, typically limiting them to medical facilities or professional athletes.

Cooper test[edit | edit source]

The Cooper test is a simpler test that can be used to roughly approximate VO2 max without the requirement for too much equipment. The test is performed by covering as much as distance (i.e. running as far as possible) within 12 minutes.

From the distance covered one can estimate the VO2 max using the following formula: VO2 max = (distance in meters - 504.9)/44.73.

Wearables[edit | edit source]

A number of current-generation wearable devices try to estimate VO2 max from the sensor data. Depending on the device different approaches to the estimation are used[4].

Recent Fitbit devices estimate the VO2 max as a range of likely values based on resting heart rate, age, gender & weight. When using the Fitbit to go on runs while collecting GPS data it will also provide a more detailed estimate.

Similarly, recent Apple Watch models do calculate the VO2 max when using the outdoor run or walk workout modes to collect data both on heart rate as well as distance covered using the GPS.

Some Garmin and Polar devices do predictions as well.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/VO2_max
  2. Ross, Robert; Blair, Steven N.; Arena, Ross; Church, Timothy S.; Després, Jean-Pierre; Franklin, Barry A.; Haskell, William L.; Kaminsky, Leonard A.; Levine, Benjamin D.; Lavie, Carl J.; Myers, Jonathan; Niebauer, Josef; Sallis, Robert; Sawada, Susumu S.; Sui, Xuemei; Wisløff, Ulrik (13 December 2016). "Importance of Assessing Cardiorespiratory Fitness in Clinical Practice: A Case for Fitness as a Clinical Vital Sign: A Scientific Statement From the American Heart Association". Circulation. 134 (24): e653–e699. doi:10.1161/CIR.0000000000000461. PMID 27881567. S2CID 3372949
  3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exercise_intensity
  4. https://www.wareable.com/health-and-wellbeing/vo2-max-guide-understand-and-increase-789