Knowing your blood pressure and cholesterol numbers, is all well and good, but do you know your cardiorespiratory fitness level?
Experts at the American Heart Association agree that this number could be the best gauge of heart health.
Cardiorespiratory fitness is basically how aerobically fit, and how efficient your circulatory system delivers oxygen throughout the body. Research suggests that poor aerobic fitness is linked to high risks of heart disease, and death from other causes. Poor cardiorespiratory fitness can be harmful as chronic illnesses and smoking, though it’s not a part of a routine physical checkup unless you specifically ask for it.
Doctors can measure cardiorespiratory fitness with your maximal oxygen consumption, or VO2 max, taken while you do an aerobic workout. This shows your body’s ability to transport and use oxygen during exercise.
If you want to gauge your cardiorespiratory fitness between doctor visits, you can use an online calculator and administer a test yourself. It may not be as thorough and detailed as a real test, but you’ll get a strong idea of where you fall on the fitness scale.
The good news is if your cardiorespiratory fitness isn’t up to par, you can always improve it. Exercising regularly and consistently is all you need to do. For adults, look into high-intensity interval training (HIIT) is a better way to effectively raise cardiorespiratory fitness than a moderate-intensity training regimen, even if you are burning the same amount of calories. You’ll be huffing and puffing more, sure, but you’ll get a reprieve during those rest intervals. The best part is a HIIT workout typically takes less time to complete than your traditional cardio workout.
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