Increasing my VO₂ Max

People have been asking me, “What are you going to do during the term break till August? Are you travelling anywhere?”

My latest response: “Nope. I’m going to jog 6km every day until my waistline drops an inch and my VO₂ Max increases from 49 to 50.”

What is VO₂ Max? 

According to Garmin, it “is an indication of your cardiovascular fitness and should increase as your fitness improves. VO₂ Max is the maximum volume of oxygen (in millilitres) you can consume per minute per kilogram of body weight at your maximum performance. Your compatible Garmin device uses heart rate and exercise data to estimate your VO₂ Max.”

Or in plain English, from GQ magazine: “Think of this number as a simple indicator of how well your lungs work, how efficiently your heart pushes blood to your muscles, and how effectively those muscles can extract and use the oxygen in that blood.”

VO₂ Max is also correlated with your longevity, according to research. According to GQ, “an increase in VO2 max levels was linked to a 21% lower risk of death over 45 years of follow-up, even after adjusting for other risk factors like blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and smoking.”

Unlike some friends, I don’t desire to live to 100 as I think I might go broke by then. However, I keep fit so that I have a better quality of life each day.

How do you measure your VO₂ Max? Use a smartwatch that can do it! I track my body stats using my Garmin Forerunner running watch. My VO₂ Max was 52 a few years ago, but it dropped to 47 recently, probably due to ageing. I put a bit more speed into my 3x weekly jogs and my VO₂ Max has improved to 49. 

So now that I have more free time until the next teaching semester, I want to work on my fitness and also get rid of the annoying layer of fat around my waist. 

(Screenshot of my current health stats as collected by my Garmin watch and weighing machine)