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There is no denying the value of VO2 max as a general metric for health. In 2016, the American Heart Association (AHA) published an official paper recommending that cardiorespiratory fitness, which can be measured by VO2 max, should be assessed regularly and used as a clinical vital sign. They cited a recognized and growing base of research documenting the relationship between cardiorespiratory fitness, health, and mortality rates1.

When it comes to mortality, the AHA highlights that cardiorespiratory fitness is a much more effective predictor than traditional risk factors such as high blood pressure, smoking, type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol and obesity.

When it comes to understanding VO2 max, higher is usually synonymous with better. However, what is a good level varies for each person and depends on factors such as gender and age. This is due to normal differences in body composition (fat vs. organs and muscle and bone mass) and the fact that the ability to use oxygen usually decreases with age.

The good news is that almost everyone can improve VO2 max by engaging in regular physical activity, with the right combination of intensity and duration. Unless you are a well-trained athlete with years of high-intensity training under your belt.


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