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VO2 max is a measure of the maximum volume of oxygen that a subject can utilize per unit time.
As the name suggests, this requires the subject to exercise at a very vigorous level for a period of time. As a result, most direct measurements of VO2 max require the presence of a health care professional. This is to make sure that the test is conducted safely.
Vernier does not have, nor does it promote, activities that directly measure VO2 max for this reason.
However, there are many different ways that you can estimate VO2 max and/or investigate oxygen consumption during exercise using Vernier products. You can even use Vernier products to measure calories burned during exercise. Please see the notes below.
You can either directly measure oxygen consumption, or you can perform a variety of tests that will estimate VO2 max. Most estimations of VO2 max involve measuring heart rate.
Measuring Oxygen Consumption:
If you want to measure oxygen consumption during exercise you will need a research quality oxygen gas sensor and other equipment for this purpose. Qubit Systems sells several excellent products for this purpose. You can even use Logger Pro software with many of them.
If you just want to investigate oxygen consumption after a period of exercise, please see the following activity in our Human Physiology Experiments book.
For a simple activity that looks at calories and exercise, take a look at the following activity in Human Physiology Experiments.
Estimating VO2 max:
There are many different ways of estimating VO2 max. Almost all of these methods involve a form of exercise and then measuring heart rate. A brief list of different methods are listed below.
- The simplest method is the Uth estimation. This method uses maximal heart rate and resting heart rate to estimate VO2 max.
- The George Jog Test is performed with the individual running 1 mile at moderate pace (8 min/mile). The heart rate is measured directly after finishing 1 mile, or the mean heart rate is used for the last quarter mile. A formula that incorporates the time to complete the mile, heart rate, weight, and gender is used to estimate VO2 max.
- The Cooper Run test is very similar to the George Jog Test with the exception that the subject runs for 1.5 miles.
- The Rockport Walk Test has the subject walk 1 mile at their fastest pace possible.
- The Forestry Step Test is another test that involves heart rate. Instead of running, the subject performs a test involving stepping up and down for a period of time.
Protocols for many of these tests can be found online. All of these tests include a formula for calculating VO2 max. You can then use a table to see how you compare to other age groups, athletes, etc.
An excellent printed resource is Exercise Physiology Lab Manual by Beam and Adams. The 6th edition was published in 2011.