Updated: Mar 23
USING VO2max TO DETERMINE YOUR AEROBIC CAPACITY
“I’d like to measure my aerobic capacity and fitness. I would also like to have a better idea of my maximal heart rate and my targeted training zones when I exercise”.
That’s what Mr. A, 69-year-old, told us when asked for his reason for wanting to do a VO2max test. After a quick chat, we get to know a little bit more about Mr. A and most importantly, his activity level. He shared that he exercises 6-7 days per week that includes hiking and swimming. He has also been walking long distances for many years and clocks 15000 to 18000 steps per day (pretty impressive for people his age!).
Before this test, Mr. A has cleared his medical check-up and completed a stress test with no comorbidity issue. With all this information provided, Mr. A is very clear that he wants to continue his workout routine (to keep himself healthy
and fit) while making sure it is still within his safe zone
The VO2max test is not always a straightforward process. It is typically performed according to protocols and it has to be as specific as possible to the client’s activity/ sport demands. Based on Mr. A’s fitness and training background, Bruce protocol (on the treadmill) was selected for his test.
WHAT IS BRUCE PROTOCOL?
Bruce protocol comprises seven of 3 minutes stages, each of which requires Mr. A to walk faster and at a steeper gradient, starting at a gradient and speed of 10% and 2.7km/hr, respectively. The test will then continue until Mr. A’s oxygen consumption plateau, or when he has reached his limit.
AFTER THE TEST
Mr. A stopped his VO2max test when he reaches his limit, with a VO2max value of 39.1ml/kg/min. He managed to achieve a maximal heart rate of 148 bpm. Mr. A was monitored closely during the recovery period until his heart rate and blood pressure was back to baseline. His heart rate recovery readings were 109 bpm (-39 post 1 minute), 83 bpm (-26bpm post 2 minutes), and 75 bpm (-8 bpm post 3 minutes) and the blood pressure at 132/80 mmHg (post 3 minutes).
WHAT DOES ALL THIS DATA MEAN?
Not only does Mr. A has an “Excellent” aerobic fitness based on the normative values for his age and gender, but he also has an excellent heart rate recovery! Almost twice faster compared to the average HR recovery of people in his age group (60-69) which is 18 bpm (post 1 min exercise) (Sydo et al., 2018). This means average, the heart rate for people at his age recovers about 18 bpm on the first minute of post-workout whereas Mr. A’s heart rate reduces by 39 bpm post-1-minute workout. The faster a person could bring down his or her HR, the fitter they are as they are able to recover faster from physical exhaustion.
NOW I KNOW MY VO2MAX TEST RESULT, WHAT CAN I USE IT FOR?
The test results allow us to define the recommended heart rate zones (from easy to very hard) for Mr. A to train in according to his physical fitness goal.
Taking his age into consideration, other suggestions and advice were provided to Mr. A to maintain/improve his aerobic fitness. Besides keeping up with his regular exercise, it is recommended for him to incorporate 2x/week of resistance training to maintain and/or improve his muscular mass or strength. This is due to the loss of lean muscle mass and strength associated with aging, which can also impact the VO2max. Last but not least, we recommend Mr. A to consider including balance and stability exercises as it helps to reduce the risk of falls.
If you are interested to do a VO2max test or you would like to know more about it, feel free to drop us an email!