I Had a Stress Test Today
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As a prerequisite for starting cardiac rehabilitation, I had to go for an exercise stress test at the hospital this morning. First, I was hooked up to an electrocardiogram machine to record the electrical impulses that trigger my heartbeats. Then I got on a treadmill and had a breathing tube placed in my mouth that measured the gases that came out of me as I exhaled.
The treadmill was turned on and I started walking very slowly. Except for some discomfort from the breathing tube, everything was fine at this point. After a while, though, the treadmill’s speed and incline were increased. Now it started to get a little dicey.
I was probably just past the six minute mark when the doctor cranked the treadmill’s speed and incline up a bit more. I was able to keep up the pace for another couple of minutes, but then I had to have them shut it down… I was done. I started thinking, “Oh, how the mighty have fallen…” Actually, it’s been a long while since I was anywhere near mighty and the treadmill simply just kicked my ass.
So what was the point of this in relation to starting cardiac rehabilitation? Well, the doctor wanted to see what I was physically capable of before I start the rehab program. He told me the stress test went extremely well and provided him with a lot of great data about me. Wonderful. He didn’t say I was in good shape; he just said he got a lot of good information.
After looking over the results, one thing stuck out that I had never heard of before. It’s called “VO2 Max”. VO2 Max is your body’s maximum capacity to utilize oxygen during exercise. It’s essentially a measurement of your aerobic capacity and is a reflection of your general level of physical fitness.
The doctor told me a healthy 50-year old guy in good shape should have a VO2 Max number of 36. At 50 years old and in my current shape, my VO2 Max number is 24. The doctor was polite, but I went and looked this stuff up on the Internet after I left the hospital. I found my number 24 equated to a “very poor” rating. It’s getting kind of clear to me that I’ve got some health issues…
So, how do I increase my VO2 Max? Simple… I get off my fat sedentary ass and start exercising! I’m sure the cardiac rehab program will get me going in that direction, but I also realize that it’s all up to me.
I guess it’s not all fun and games becoming the Healthy Heart Guy…