Improving Your Oxygen Intake

author : Team BT
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VO2 matters for endurance athletes. How to improve yours.

Oxygen saturation is incredibly important to endurance athletes, most because without oxygen, the muscles simply don’t get the amount of iron and other nutrients that they need to function at high levels under extreme pressure. In fact, one study suggested that there is almost a direct relationship between oxygen levels and triathlon performance.

Therefore, raising the blood’s oxygen level is an important, yet almost always overlooked, component of triathlon training. As with any training regimen, establishing a baseline is the best place to start, and that means understanding blood pressure and other key metrics. After that, set a realistic goal. What really matters most is what you do between these two steps.

Why It Matters

VO2 (volume of oxygen) is a lot like the law of diminishing returns for athletes. As you study for a big test, eventually you’ll reach a point where your mind simply cannot hold any more information and so further studying is a waste of time.

So, increasing VO2 is a key to performance. If you increase that level, your muscles will get more oxygen.

Training Tools

No one runs a triathlon after one day of training, and no one raises VO2 levels overnight. In both arenas, a gradual buildup is the best way to obtain results. Moreover, with oxygen levels, it’s possible to train your body to take in more oxygen without even really thinking about it. 

VO2 Max will increase with aerobic conditioning, and by regularly working at a very difficult interval pace for two to five minutes. Altitude training is another popular way to enhance your body's ability to translate oxygen into power efficiently. However, there are suggestions that your environment can also influence our oxygen uptake. Some of the suggestions simply increase available oxygen, which might help prime your body and muscle systems before a race. Others, such as deep breathing, actually train your body to take in and process oxygen at a higher level.

  • Houseplants: Green up your space to raise the oxygen level in your home while simultaneously decreasing the carbon dioxide level. Low-maintenance plants with lots of leaves, like ferns and ivies, are particularly ideal.

  • Freshen the Air: Opening windows also raises the oxygen level in the room. A good air purifier is helpful here, because if it can work for China, it can probably work for your home.

  • Room Aroma: Air cleaners and scented candles release chemicals into the air, and if you breathe fumes instead of oxygen, your body will adjust to what it sees as the new normal.

  • Diet: Most proteins and green leafy vegetables are iron-rich, and this mineral is vital for oxygen absorption. Many other green vegetables, like celery and broccoli, fall into this category as well. Alos, reduce your salt intake, because sodium decreases oxygenation in the kidneys.

  • Meditation: Deep breaths and relaxation improve oxygen intake, and the activity could be anything relaxing, from yoga to journal writing.

Some research indicates that lemons will increase oxygen intake levels, because these fruits have lots of negatively-charged ions. These are the same particles that give people a rush of good feelings when they are near waterfalls and other natural wonders. Adding a little lemon juice to water is also a good way to regulate the body’s carbohydrate levels so as to not crowd out oxygen.

At the end of the day, heredity and consistent training have the most impact on oxygen uptake and VO2 max. 


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date: July 31, 2017

Team BT