VO2max rehab for seniors

I was looking for current posts from others looking at their VO2max. Not seeing much, I decided to post my own topic.

I’d been interested in evaluating my own VO2max ever since I trained for and ran my first (and only) marathon back in 1991. Now 30 years later, at age 74, I wonder if I’ll ever run another one. But over the years my cardio fitness deteriorated until last year I couldn’t even jog 1/4 mile non-stop.

Researching the topic I found a neat web post that let me quantify just how bad the situation had gotten. See VO2 Max Calculator for Aerobic Capacity.

Choosing the 1.5 mile test, I learned on 2/06/20 that my VO2max was 26.4, and also found a chart showing that was Poor even for age 70-79. It then took me a month to get it up to Good at 33.8.

Somewhat satisfied, and distracted by other interests, I stopped working it last year. Now, restarting this week I am back to Fair condition. The good news is that I really wasn’t that far from “Excellent” last year with a 10:36 pace running non-stop the entire 1.5 miles. So, I should be able to beat my target 10:00 pace this year.

Bottom line, I’m interested in what any other seniors are doing, especially those that are rehabilitating themselves.

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That’s an excellent calculator site – thanks for posting!

I became concerned by the VO2Max scores calculated by my Apple Watch (which apparently uses something like the algorithms in the site you posted). This is a plot showing how much my score plummeted since last summer, despite my significant daily exercise. The gray bars measured by the right-hand axis show the number of minutes daily that my heart rate is 2x my minimum.

The plunge worried me enough that I did a full-blown echocardiogram test, where I discovered that at least in my case the Apple Watch-computed VO2Max was completely wrong. My real VO2Max is at least 20 points higher than what was computed by the Watch.

So, YMMV but this taught me to be very wary of VO2Max estimates based on simple heart rate tests.

Hi Richard. Thank you VERY much for that reply. I have an Apple Watch and once knew a long time ago, but forgot, that it captures its own version of VO2max. I just went into that section on the Health app and discovered it has been capturing that data since April 2020.

Yes, it does show a different value than the calculated ones in my posted spreadsheet (in my case the watch shows a higher value), but is still qualitatively very useful for showing my trend as a long term graph. The graph was very enlightening showing how my VO2max dropped after I stopped jogging last year followed by a very sedentary Fall and Winter, and how my VO2max rose again after I resumed walking 3 miles per day in mid-April, with less than a week of jogging since June 11 contributing to the last graph point,

Discovering just how beneficial just walking by itself can be is a real eye-opener!

You can check out PWC170 method for getting proxy to VO2 Max. This method have some science behind it and showing moderate / large correlations to VO2 Max (from 0.6 to 0.9 for some studies, just one of examples).
Test can be done on cycle or rowing ergometer at home. There are few protocols to do it, but in summary they all lead to measure watts at heart rate 170 bpm (with HR being stable for a few mins).
When you have watts at 170 (PWC170) just use formula VO2Max = 1.7 * 6.12 * PWC170 + 1240. Divide it by your weight in kg and you will get VO2Max in ml/min/kg.

My example: PWC170 = 125W at HR 170. Weight is 62kg.
VO2Max = (1.7 * 6.12 * 125 + 1240) / 62 = 41 ml/min/kg.
Improving your fitness leads to increase in working capacity at HR 170 (more fitness = more watts at fixed HR) which leads to increase in VO2Max. This is simplified explanation why it works as a proxy to VO2Max and can be used as predictor of aerobic fitness.

This is an interesting thread, but I don’t believe I can get my HR up to 170 BPM. I’m a runner, and when I run up my steepest, longest hill as fast as I can, my HR peaks at 162 or 163. A decade ago, it was more like 168 BPM, but I was a little faster then, and I’m trying to get back to that level. Maybe if I tried rowing (as the PWC170 people did) or some other exercise (maybe even shorter distance sprints), I could get my HR higher. They say that a person’s HRmax decreases with age. Despite the evidence to the contrary, I refuse to accept that. :wink: I’m only 60 years of age now.

I like the calculator. How does medicine affect this? I take beta blockers and so my resting HR is only 55.

Actually you dont need to reach 170, its enough to be somewhere around. The idea behind the test is that HR and Power (watts) during task is in linear relationship until HR reach 170 bpm and even you have done test at 162 (for example), formula used to calculate PWC170 will interpolate watts from 162 to 170 in linear matter.

As i mention you dont need to get exactly 170. Studies analyse rowing/cycling PWC170 because its easy to control power (watts). When you running its hard to calculate power, thats why there is no running PWC170 tests…

Thats true for average in population (stated in studies). And its true that individual values and changes differs from average population - this is why you have different experience. Just take into account that average population != you :slight_smile:

I have read on researchgate (scientist forum) that beta blockers affect resting HR and HRV in way that its not so representative as without medication. Also in Mike Snyder’s study which utilize resting HR for early disease detection they stated that they are not able to detect diseases in participants who have used some medications affecting HR. So in my opinion some scientific data shows that resting HR modified by medications may not reflect biological processes on which some calculators relie, making then non-informative…

Thanks all of you for the contributions.

For the question on meds, I’m not on anything relevant so no idea on that.

As for max HR, the formula I’ve always seen is 220-age so at 74 my max should be 146. But that has never applied to me. 20-30 years ago I’d normally max in the high 190s during long runs, and now I still typically max out in the 180s when trying to shave a few seconds off my 1.5 mile average pace.

(For clarity, I usually run out of steam at my max HR and slow down to catch my breath, then repeat, with several intervals like that during my runs.)

That makes sense. Cardiac stress tests require me to stop beta blockers for 24 hours before the test.

Recently i’ve found a single stage test for VO2Max. Its based on “The Single Stage Treadmill Walking Test (Ebbeling et al.1991).”

Since it takes not too much time and easy to do, it may be used to track cardio respiratory fitness few times per month and look for trends. Since its a proxy to VO2Max, I dont think absolute value from formula will be super accurate, but a trends should reveal the changes.

I’m doing this test few times a month on a treadmill as a warmup before training. The results was not far from PWC170 mentioned early in this thread.