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  • Wade into Fitness

VO2, Pranayama & You!

Well, what in the world is going on here?!! In contemporary sports medicine, true fitness is measured as VO2 max - or how well the body is able to use oxygen under different intensities. Without getting too technical, VO2 is "Volume of Oxygen" and VO2 max is the body's maximum or peak ability to turn oxygen into energy. This equals our true aerobic capacity.

In the above picture you see me with the basic set up to measure VO2 max; a mask to measure my breathing, an exercise stressor (the bike at increasingly difficult intensities), a heart rate monitor (unseen around my midsection) and the computer which is measuring heart rate and how well my body is using oxygen.

There are many ways across cultures to understand what is going on in our bodies. This is why I love studying various approaches to fitness around the world. To me, VO2 uptake is very similar to the yoga community's concept of "Pranayama." Pranayama in Sanskrit means "control of Breath." "Prana" is breath or vital energy in the body. "Prana" is the energy responsible for life, and "ayama" means control. How well our body uses or controls breath determines our true fitness.

All aerobic fitness activities done on a regular basis help our body more effectively use oxygen or pranayama. With a consistent fitness routine we have better energy in addition to other amazing benefits. Learning techniques to better work with the breath through practices such as yoga assists with this as well.

So whatever you want to call a concept - VO2 or Pranayama - in whatever language or tradition, I find we are generally agreeing on the fundamentals - exercise, get your breath moving and you'll find energy you never knew you had!

Now, we know how to get me to stop talking! :)

Bill, my husband, gets his VO2 Max level tested as well.

That was some work for the tester and her subject. We are happy to be all done!


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