Image of Woman lifting Weights


Oh, February.

The month where your heart arguably works the hardest – whether that be in love, in loss (Siri, play Adele), or our personal favourite: your workout!

As February is Heart Month, it’s important we recognize how vital this amazing muscle is in helping us achieve health, happiness, and a faster run time. To truly understand its impact on our cardiovascular health, we need to take a look at one very important thing: VO₂ Max.

In this blog, we’ll go through what VO₂ Max actually is and exercise tips to help you improve yours today!

What is VO₂ Max?

VO₂ Max, also known as maximal oxygen consumption or maximal oxygen uptake, is the maximum amount of oxygen the body can utilize during intense exercise.

The name VO₂ Max can be broken down to: V – Volume, O₂ – Oxygen, Max – Maximum, and reflects an individual’s overall cardiorespiratory fitness as the more oxygen a person can utilize, the more energy is produced (and thus, a faster run time).

So, why is this important to know?

Well, if you’re looking to understand or improve your cardiovascular health, this is the best place to start. Knowing your VO₂ Max can act as both a benchmark and predictor of your performance, so you can better handle aerobic exercises like running, spinning, HIIT classes, or swimming.

How Do You Measure VO₂ Max?

There are a few ways to measure a person’s VO₂ Max, but the easiest would be to have a certified personal trainer conduct a VO₂ Max, or Submaximal test.

The submaximal exercise test is typically conducted on a treadmill and will depend on a few key factors, including:

  • Age – VO₂ Max tends to decline at a rate of 1-2% per year after the age of 30.
  • Gender – Men typically have higher VO₂ levels as they have more muscle mass.
  • Fitness Level – As with any test, the more you train, the better your VO₂ score will be.
  • Elevation – Locations with higher altitudes have lower oxygen levels meaning your aerobic capacity and performance times will be reduced.

While these factors are important, remember that they’re not everything. If you’re a woman over 30 living in a high-altitude area, don’t let these factors deter you from becoming a runner. If you’re new to fitness and have a lower VO₂ Max level, it doesn’t mean you should call it quits.

There’s a reason it’s called a fitness journey: fitness is never static and can always be improved.

What are the Benefits of Increasing your VO₂ Max?

One word: Longevity.

The search for the holy grail is over! Increasing your VO₂ Max is the key to longer life, says this 2018 study. Now, while you may not know that your life is longer until, well…the end, there are a few immediate benefits you’ll start to see within a few days or weeks of improving your VO₂, including:

  • Less exhaustion while doing regular activities
  • Less stress
  • Better immune system functions

How to Increase Your VO₂ Max?

It’s no secret. The way to increase your VO₂ Max is to move!

This doesn’t mean Olympic-level swimming or preparing for the Tour De France, but adding in various aerobic exercises and switching up your workout.

Here are our favourite ways to increase your VO₂ Max:

High Intensity Interval Training

High Intensity Interval Training works to strengthen muscles and increase your blood volume with each heartbeat which helps your body take in more oxygen.

More oxygen, more energy!

Mixed Aerobic Activities

By switching up your aerobic activities, your body is able to produce slightly better VO₂ Max improvements. So instead of opting for a single treadmill run, try a WORX small group training class where you can mix cardio and strength training for an optimal workout.

Head to Fitness World to Increase Your VO₂ Max!

If you’re ready to start on a journey that will give you longer life, less stress, and the ability to walk up the stairs without being out of breath, it’s time to improve your VO₂

And the best part is you don’t have to do it alone. If you’re unsure about how to improve your VO₂, head in to your nearest Fitness World Club today to speak to one of our knowledgeable certified personal trainers who can help build you a plan based on your unique needs.