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NIFS Healthy Living Blog

Tara Weichel

Recent Posts by Tara Weichel:

VO2 and You (Part 3 of 3)

Welcome to part 3 of this series highlighting that elusive term: VO2 max. I have discussed what the term VO2 max means and how having a good VO2 max can help you perform better when exercising and also get through your daily activities easier. And now you must be thinking “Do I have to train like a Navy Seal for years to increase my VO2 max?” The answer would be no.

VO2 exercising

VO2 max is a product of how strong your cardiovascular system (CVS) is. Your CVS adapts much like your muscles do. So the best way to pump up your CVS and VO2 max is to increase your heart rate for a longer period of time. This can be accomplished through many different types of structured and progressive workouts.

Workouts? Heart rate? How do you figure that stuff out? The answer to those questions is the simplest of them all: ask NIFS! The trainers at NIFS are educated in constructing workouts for your individual needs, which means they can tell you the “how long” and “how hard” of your workouts in order to reach that magic VO2 max number. NIFS also offers VO2 max testing! Ask a NIFS trainer in your fitness center for more information on testing as well.

With your newfound knowledge on VO2 max, you can boost your exercise performance and get a lean, mean, and more powerful cardiovascular system! Just remember that oxygen is your friend. The higher your VO2 max, the easier it is to spend time with your friend!

Schedule a VO2 max testing today!

Read Part 1 and Part 2 of this series.

Written by Adam Heavrin, certified Health Fitness Specialist at NIFS.

Topics: assessments

VO2 and You (Part 2 of 3)

In Part 1 of this series I explained that VO2max denotes the maximum amount of oxygen your body can use in one minute. So if you can use more oxygen in one minute, just think what you can do over many minutes of a workout!

So where should your VO2 max be? Refer to the tables here that display normative values for age-group VO2 max tests.

Within your age group, the higher numbers represent a higher VO2 max. If you have a great VO2 max, what does that get you outside the gym? Well, if your body can use oxygen more efficiently, you don’t have to work as hard for those little things: walking to your car from the grocery store, walking up and down stairs in your house, and doing chores around the house to name a few. And if it’s easier to get that oxygen to your muscles, there is a big, important muscle that doesn’t have to work as hard at doing its job: your heart.

heart health exercising

Your heart is constantly exercising. It’s always working to get blood with nutrients and oxygen to the parts of your body that need it most. When your VO2 max numbers are good, your heart does not have to work as hard to keep pumping blood to muscles when you are exercising. So of course when you are doing your daily activities it has to work even less hard. A higher VO2 max will actually decrease your resting heart rate and therefore decrease stress on the heart when doing activities at varying intensity levels (such as walking the dog or running a marathon).

In the last part of this series I will outline the different ways to strengthen that heart muscle and pump up your VO2 max number.

To find out more or schedule a VO2 max test or Bod Pod® test click here. Read Part 3 of this series.

Written by Adam Heavrin, certified Health Fitness Specialist at NIFS.

Topics: assessments

VO2 and You (Part 1 of 3)

VO2 max. You have possibly heard this term used to describe your fitness level. Unfortunately, most people haven’t got a clue what it means or how the information is supposed to help them. But never fear! In this three-part series I will unravel the mystery behind VO2max and explain why it should be a go-to piece of information to help you reach fitness and healthy lifestyle goals.

VO2 Max

To start, let’s take out the “max” and just go with VO2. The V in VO2 stands for volume, and the O2 stands for our great friend, oxygen. Together, the term VO2 denotes “volume of oxygen consumption.” When you add in the “max” and apply the term to exercise, VO2 max is the maximum amount of oxygen a person can consume and use in one minute per kilogram of body weight (one kilogram is equivalent to approximately 2.2 pounds).

Oxygen is our friend. Oxygen is like the gas in your car. We can work without it, but not for very long. Therefore, the higher your VO2 max is, the more oxygen your body can deliver to working muscles in a shorter amount of time. VO2 max is not just for marathon runners, either. Whether you want to climb stairs easier, get up and down the basketball court longer, or just make that last couple of hours at work a little more productive, a higher VO2 max will allow you to get the most out of your oxygen fuel tank.  

So now you know what VO2 max is. Check out part 2 of the series to find out the various health benefits associated with a high VO2 max. Here’s hoping I have MAXimized your curiosity!

To find out more or schedule a VO2 max test or Bod Pod® test click here.

Read Part 2 and Part 3 of this series.

Written by Adam Heavrin, certified Health Fitness Specialist at NIFS.

Topics: assessments

How Sleep Affects Exercise and Weight Loss

On March 4, 2013 the National Sleep Foundation released findings that connected sleep and exercise. The key points of the poll are as follows (but you can read the complete poll):

  • Exercisers say they sleep better
  • Vigorous exercisers report the best sleep
  • Non-exercisers are the sleepiest and have the highest risk for sleep apnea
  • Less time sitting is associated with better sleep and health
  • Exercise at any time of day appears to be good for sleep

In 2009, NIFS wrote about this same connection that stemmed from a research study on the topic. Below is an excerpt from that article written by NIFS Fitness Center Director, Melanie Roberts. We hope it will give you some added z's from it's insights!

The Sleep and Exercise Connection

The sleep, weight loss and exercise connectionThe Sleep and Exercise Connection Researcher Karla Ann Kubitz published findings of a large meta-analysis covering more than 10 years of sleep and exercise studies. The review shows that exercise significantly increases total sleep time and aerobic exercise decreases REM sleep. Kubitz also noted that those who exercise regularly, as well as those taking up a single bout of exercise, both experienced an increase in NREM and total sleep time. The result: those exercising went to sleep more quickly, slept longer, and had a more restful sleep than those not exercising.

The Sleep and Weight Loss Connection

While some researchers feel the link between sleep loss and weight gain is weak, others continue to investigate what happens in the body when it doesn’t receive the 7 to ­9 hours of recommended rejuvenation time. “Sleep loss is associated with striking alterations in hormone levels that regulate the appetite and may be a contributing factor to obesity,” says Michael Thorpy, MD, director of the Sleep-Wake Disorders Center at Montefiore Medical Center in New York. Joyce Walsleben, PhD, past director of the Sleep Disorder Center at the New York University School of Medicine, agrees. “When you disrupt sleep, you disrupt your hormones. You become glucose intolerant, you want to eat more, and you don’t metabolize what you eat as well.” Not only can this hormonal disruption lead to weight gain, Walsleben warns, but also to an increased risk of developing diabetes. Even mild sleep deprivation can lead to a disruption of these hormone levels that regulate appetite which operate on a 24-hour rhythm.

Need another reason to choose sleep over late night web surfing or TV watching? Based on findings from Pennsylvania State University, lack of sleep causes chronic low-grade inflammation and predisposes you to cardiovascular events and a shorter life span.

Sleep On This

So whether you've been exercising regularly or have just started with a single session, you can expect a more restful sleep than someone who does not exercise. And since sleep plays an instrumental role in the body’s metabolic equation, consider starting a fitness program today.

Topics: NIFS exercise healthy habits weight loss sleep