People have known for decades that exercise is beneficial. How do we know if we are doing is effective? The most obvious improvements come in the way of how we feel about ourselves – the confidence we carry. Doctors can measure improvements in your blood work, but they don’t always communicate where you have improved. As long as your numbers fall within a “normal” range, they generally don’t care about changes.
There is a way to put a number on your fitness level, so that you can objectively measure improvements.
It is called a VO2max test. This test measures the amount of oxygen your body utilizes during intense exercise. It is measured in milliliters of oxygen used each minute per kilogram of bodyweight (mL/kg/min). The average sedentary male’s score is 35 – 40 mL/kg/min, while the average sedentary female’s score is 27 – 30 mL/kg/min.
During testing, the athlete breathes into a mask while the test administrator steadily increases the training intensity via speed or elevation/resistance. The machine measures the amount of oxygen utilized. The test is not easy, but it is valuable!
If you need a reason to measure & improve your fitness level, here are nine:
- Reduce your risk of heart attack by 15% for every 10 additional VO2max points.
- Moderately high VO2max scores prevent brain shrinkage.
- Improve your ability to perform for long periods of time with minimal fatigue.
- Burn more fat per minute at higher intensities.
- Moderately high VO2max scores reduce cancer risk by more than 40%.
- Higher scores decrease an individual’s relative risk of heart disease.
- Athletes with higher scores can run/bike/swim faster and for longer periods of time.
- You can ensure your fitness program is working by seeing improved scores.
- Bragging rights among your friends.
Serious Results offers VO2max testing (via treadmill or elliptical) at a reasonable rate. You can book your testing time here. See how you measure up against these athletes:
David Beckham (soccer pro) – 68 mL/kg/min
Rich Froning (CrossFit’s 4x “Fittest Man Alive”) – 73.9 mL/kg/min
Serena Williams (tennis pro) – 77 mL/kg/min
Steve Prefontaine (runner) – 84.4 mL/kg/min
Lance Armstrong (cyclist)– 85 mL/kg/min
Miguel Indurain (Tour de France winner) – 88 mL/kg/min
Espen Harald Bjerke (Norwegian cross-country skier) – 96 mL/kg/min
Oskar Svendsen (cyclist) – 97.5 mL/kg/min *Highest ever recorded!