VO2max is a measure of the maximal amount of oxygen that a person is able to breathe in, and utilise, during periods of maximal exercise, normalised for the person’s body weight. It is a measure of endurance fitness, and it is expressed in terms of millilitres of oxygen used up per minute, divided by the body weight, in kg. Rather compact machines are available in specialist laboratories or hospitals that measure O2 and CO2 flow in and out of the lungs. The instruments require wearing a mask over the mouth and nose, connected to the recorder. The exercise is usually carried out on a bicycle ergometer, or on a tread mill, and lasts about 15 minutes, during which one is asked to exercise in a graded way (eg extra friction added to the cycle ergometer), until one feels one cannot carry on any more. The instrument continuously reports heart rate, O2 consumption and CO2 expiration, and computes VO2max. It is a good measure of aerobic fitness, and a test of the cardiorespiratory system.

It turns out that NTU had its Open Day yesterday, and in the LKC School of Medicine we prepared quite a range of interactive displays and exhibits. With the help from our DSO colleague Dr. Jason Lee, my colleague Darren Lim organised a cycle ergometer for measurements of VO2max for any student or parent who wished to undergo the test. During the day, 20 people had their VO2max measured, and although it is hard work, all seemed to enjoy the experience, and enjoyed learning about their endurance fitness. In the week prior to the Open Day I had a go on the machine. My VO2max came out at 49 ml/kg/min, with a maximal heart rate of 153 beats/min. This VO2max value really surprised me, as it is quite high for someone my age as can be seen from VO2max tables. This site gives VO2max values for women.

Obvioulsy my regular, and intense cycling has a profound effect on my cardiovascular system.