VO2 Max

Athletes’ fitness test and an important health measurement tool.

VO2 Max, a scientific measure of cardio fitness for athletes, has become a key health measurement for all people. The reason? Research has revealed that even modest improvements in your cardio fitness can lower your risk of cardiovascular disease and premature death substantially. This page will show you the average cardio fitness level for your age group.  You'll be able to see how much you need to improve your fitness to lower your health risk.

VO2 Max is a measurement of your body’s ability to absorb and consume oxygen during exercise. A high VO2 allows you to tolerate high intensity exercise for a long time. Average values with ratings for men and women are in the first 2 charts.

A review of 33 studies found that improving your cardio fitness by just 3.5 points (about equal to improving from good to excellent on the chart), will lower your risk of premature death from any cause by 13%! The charts below show the optimal levels of fitness for lowering your risk of cardiovascular disease, based on research from the Cooper Institute(1).

How can you determine your cardio fitness level? If you’re new to exercise, or just not into jogging, the Rockport Walking Test is the best cardio fitness test for you. Enter your time for a one mile walk and your heart rate into our calculator and you’ll get your fitness score plus exercise recommendations!

If you’re the athletic type, the Cooper 1.5 mile run test will work well for you. The charts below show the 1.5 mile times that match the optimal, average and high-risk VO2 levels for men and women your age.

If you already have another health condition, like obesity or diabetes, improving your cardio fitness becomes even more critical! Notice the dramatic difference in health risk at different fitness levels for 50 year old men who have diabetes (2).

Find out more about cardio training here.

Return from VO2 Max to physical fitness tests.

Return to home page: Why I exercise.

Leave me a comment in the box below.

Leave me a comment in the box below.

I'm Rob Cowell, PT, the author of whyiexercise.com. I enjoy sharing from my experiences in physical therapy, fitness & athletics. Thanks for visiting!

Rockport Walking Test
Find your VO2 Max with a 1 mile timed walk.

Cooper Test
Compare your cardio fitness and strength to your peers.