A to Z Challenge: V is for VO2

Have you heard of VO2? This is one of those fitness terms that seems to be popping up all the time. So, I thought we should define it and I needed a “V” topic!😊

This is the volume of oxygen consumed when you exercise.

It is often expressed as VO2 max. This is a measurement of the maximum oxygen an athlete can use during intense exercise. It is basically a measurement of aerobic endurance, and the athletes’ overall cardiovascular fitness.❀️

This is not just for elite athletes. If you have had a stress test at the doctors office, you may have had this assessment.

How it is measured

The athlete, or patient, performs an exercise, usually riding a stationary bike, or running on a treadmill. The oxygen content is measured in the volume of air that is inhaled and exhaled. Remember, CO2 is exhaled and therefore contains oxygen molecules.

1449223426084-1wr8ssbdskbs1-630-80The test is 10 to 15 minutes and the athlete is required to raise the speed and intensity of the exercise until the point of muscle fatigue. The test must be performed in a lab with the measurement taken with the correct equipment, your Garmin reading is not accurate. Garmin, and other heart monitors can only track your heart rate, and then use your weight, gender, age and height to calculate your VO2, which is off by a large factor!

v02-max-maximum

The VO2 max is the point where aerobic metabolism stops and anaerobic metabolism begins, muscle fatigue follows quickly. Have you ever had a cramp when swimming or running? It hurts!😩 that is the point we are talking about.

 

Can it be altered?

While there is a strong genetic component, your VO2 max can be increased through proper training. Age, gender and altititude can also affect your VO2 consumption.

To give you an idea of what we are talking about, the averge sedentary person has a VO2 max of 35 ml/kg/min and elite endurance athletes are around 70 ml/kg/min.

Remember Lance Armstrong? At his peak, his VO2 Max was 85 ml/kg/min. He was able to manipulate his VO2 by increasing the number of red blood cells (which bind and carry oxygen). He took EPO, erythropoietin, which stimulates the formation of red blood cells. This was especially helpful when cycling in the mountains were there is less oxygen at high altitudes.

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Of course, he also tested positive for other substances as well, and won the Tour de France seven times before having his titles and medals stripped. Cycling is notorious for blood doping with EPO, and most riders complain that they cannot compete with the athletes who use performance enhancing drugs.

I hope this helps you the next time you see this in your health and fitness reading, which I am sure you are doing regularly!πŸ˜‡

References:

https://www.verywellfit.com/what-is-vo2-max-3120097

https://runnersconnect.net/is-vo2-max-worth-spending-for/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fn3Yr-LS_l0

https://www.sport-fitness-advisor.com/vo2max.html

https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/lance-armstrong-case-prompts-question-why-is-there-so-much-doping-in-cycling/2013/01/18/32cd089a-5e61-11e2-a389-ee565c81c565_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.913c54117162

 

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A to Z Challenge: L is for Level of Fitness

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Our fitness levels are really important, especially as we enter into midlife. The reality is that our overall fitness level begins to degrade long before midlife, in fact there are losses beginning as early as our 20s and 30s. We loose 3% to 6% in those early decades but skyrocket to 20% loss as we near 70 years of age.

Why should you care? The less overall fitness you have, the slower your metabolism, which of course leaves you vulnerable to injury and disease.maxresdefault

Decreased muscle mass also correlated to bone strength. Strong healthy muscles need strong bones for attachment, so new bone must be laid down as your muscles grow. Of course the converse relationship also exists. You lose a third to a half a pound of muscle each year unless you’re strength training and your bones will loose density as well.

osteoporosis-nclex-nursing

 

 

The good news is that this can be reversed at any time! Moving is critical! There are five key tests that are used to determine your overall fitness level. This is a great indicator as to where to focus your exercise goals. They specifically measure your overall strength, flexibility and aerobic fitness.

 

  1. Core strength: You will need a timer for this exercise. Get into a plank formation and start your timer. The goal is to hold this position for as long as possible. Note the time when you can no longer support your body weight and find your age group on the chart below.

plank045360_PlankForeB_02-600x450

core-test

 

2. Upper body strength: This is a push up test, no timer needed. Perform the exercise and keep track of your completed reps. Watch your form! Count only completed push ups.

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upper-body-test

3. Lower body strength:

This is a timed wall sit. Stand with your back against a flat surface and lower until your knees are at a 90 degree angle. Start your timer, and record when you can no loner hold the position.

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lower-body-test

4. Aerobic Fitness:

There are several versions for this as some will have you walk a track for a specific time or distance. This one will be a step assessment. If you choose an alternative test, make sure you use the chart for that specific assessment, as the charts are not interchangeable.

For this, you will need a timer and an 8 inch step.Β Straighten your back and engage your stomach muscles, then begin stepping on and off the step, alternating your feet. Maintain a steady pace for three minutes, with the goal of taking 40 steps per minute. When the time is up, rest for 30 seconds, then take your pulse for 15 seconds. (You can check your pulse at your wrist using your opposite hand’s index and middle finger.) Multiply the 15 second pulse count by four to get your heart rate per minute.

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aerobic-test-women

Women’s Chart

aerobic-test-men

Men’s Chart

5. Flexibility: This is the sit and reach test.Β Sit on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you. Stretch your arms forward, reaching toward your toes. If you cannot reach your toes, then bend your knees until you can.

sE4Rs

flexibility-test

 

So, how did you do?😊 Now that you know your strength and weaknesses you can add in those activities that will help you move into a better overall fitness level! The goal is to be a little better than you were the day before πŸ’•

 

References:

https://www.prevention.com/fitness/fitness-tips/how-to-test-your-fitness-level/slide/6

https://saveourbones.com/test-your-fitness-level-with-these-five-simple-assessments/

https://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/fitness_articles.asp?id=1112

http://www.healthreviser.com/content/fitness-level-declines-dramatically-age