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 these charts.

Improving your cardio fitness may be the most efficient way to improve your overall health. 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%!. (1)  You'd get similar health benefits by reducing your waist by 7 cm or lowering your blood pressure by 5 points.  

The next 2 charts 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. 

If you choose the Cooper Test, these charts 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  

Related Articles

Cooper Test
A 1.5 mile jog / run for runners and more athletic types. As with the walking test, you'll be able to compare your results to men or women your age.

High intensity interval training 
Use bursts of intense exercise for higher calorie burning and a boost in your cardio fitness. Beginning and intermediate workouts are illustrated, including drills that improve your balance and agility.

Rockport Walking Test 
This simple test makes it possible for non-athletes to find their VO2 Max. Walk 1 mile for time, and enter your heart rate into the fitness calculator. The better your score, the lower your risk for future health issues.

Metabolic Equivalent                                               Compare physical activities by intensity and calories burned. This guide will help you pick exercise that is a good match for your ability level.

Find out more about cardio training here.

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