Your VO2 max refers to the amount of oxygen that your body uses when at maximum exertion during aerobic exercise.
Let’s use an example to illustrate. Imagine you’re at the international airport ready to begin that dream holiday you’ve spent years saving for. You see on the screens that your flight is now open for boarding but disaster strikes – you realise you’re at the wrong terminal! Now it’s a battle against the clock to make it to the other side of the airport in time - we think it’s safe to say that you’re going to run as fast as your legs will carry you!
We push our body to its aerobic limits in these kinds of situations - your body will utilise as much oxygen as possible to perform to its maximum capacity.
Your VO2 max is a measure of how much oxygen your body uses at times like these.
To simplify it:
VO2 max = (the amount of oxygen breathed in when you inhale) minus (the amount of oxygen breathed out in when you exhale)
VO2 max can be measured in millilitres of oxygen used in one minute per kilogram of body weight (mL/kg/min)
As you can imagine, obtaining this direct measurement requires expensive laboratory equipment and trained professionals to administer the testing – resources that very few of us have access to.
In lieu of this, health researchers have developed a more practical and less costly way to estimate your VO2 (hooray for science!).
Here at the SimplyMe lab our data analysts use the Uth-Sørensen-Overgaard-Pedersen VO2 equation that uses your maximal heart rate and resting heart rate to calculate your estimated VO2 max.
After using your heart data to estimate your VO2 max is, it is then assessed according to gender and age-specific classifications.
As a general rule, the higher your VO2 max the greater your cardiorespiratory fitness and aerobic performance. It is reported that Usain Bolt has a VO2 max of 88.2!
An interesting fact: your VO2 max and your resting heart rate share an inverse relationship. As your VO2 max increases your resting heart rate decreases. It's a win-win!