Given we’ve been on ‘lockdown’ for a couple of weeks and people may not have had much else to do bar exercise, I was wondering how much the average couch potato may improve their cardiovascular fitness during this time?
This isn’t a thread for the pros and cons of lockdown but more to do with how someone might improve over a given time eg. 2,4,6,12 weeks and would there be a difference if the participant took place in walking, running, cycling or swimming. Ie an activity that the general public would have reasonable access too.
I’ve got a book I could probably find the information in, but my guess is ‘a lot’. Cardiovascular fitness is very trainable and pretty quickly.
I’m not doing much, but every now and again, I’m doing a video from and American woman called Betty Rocker (callisthenics and yoga (ish) ) so getting a bit more intense aerobic than I normally would, my job is not very demanding usually. I find it very hard work.
A table I’m looking at suggests an improvement in VO2max of about 20% after 6 weeks. That’s a generalised summary – I think it considered endurance runners. My gut feeling is that running would be best, followed by cycling then swimming, with the caveat that you can do more cycling than running and for most people is likely to be the best option.
I’m quite surprised at that figure. Does it give an indication of the activities or how regularly they should be done to get that level of improvement.
I’m guessing a couch potato going for a walk everyday may not achieve that.
My, very uninformed guess would be that someone who starts off as a total couch potato will improve more than a trained athlete over the same timescale.
Miguel Induráin had a 7.8 litre lung capacity compared to 6 for average male and could pump 7 litres around the body per minute 3-4 is average.
The heart and size of it is also important though and is probably more important than lung capacity.
If I could improve my VO2 max by 20%, even as a towards the top end of the curve, but certainly nothing spectacular, middle aged athlete, I’d be breaking every record going. Unfortunately, I suspect that I can’t.
I would separate getting fit and aerobic capacity. When starting an exercise regime your aerobic capacity will get better quite quickly (cycling, running, hiking up hills), but muscle adaptations will take longer and tendon/ligament adaptations will take a lot longer. This difference in rate helps explain the high incidence of many running injuries such as Achilles tendinosis and why some plans seem frustrating.
I found this page https://www.runnersblueprint.com/increase-lung-capacity/ which seems quite comprehensive.
With regard to the VO2 max. Mine (50) as older person would be amazing if increased by 20%, but I know with consistent training over a few months I can reliably get this up to 54.
I will let you know. Myself and the Mrs have had a lot of issues both health and work over the last few years and I have hit 120kg and out of breath on 2 flights of stairs. I kept telling myself it’s muscle because I have always been very strong but on Monday I really struggled to lift a 60kg pump from my van to the cabinet on site. Apparently as well as getting fat I have got weak too.
This thread (and the current situation) has inspired me to do something about it.
Just finished the first run on the BBC couch to 5k, 5 min walk, 1 min run, 1.5 min walk 8 times, 5 min walk to cool down.
Feel like death but not as bad as when I have tried before and being a bloke totally overdone it.
Being encouraged by Sarah Millichan is cool.
Added bonus, all the dog has done for weeks us a 20 to 30 minute walk, he loved stretching his legs (no where near us where he can come off the lead without driving there)
My experience is the things you find hardest will give you the most benefit. But the conundrum is you are less likely to keep unpleasant exercise up. So for me I don’t like running and I go through phases of forcing myself to do it, but never really stick with it.
So find something you like, for me it’s walking and cycling these days. Probably need to be hills involved for these activities to get your heart rate up to see real CV benefits.
I don’t think swimming is an option at present unless you have your own pool!
@yorkshirelad I have 2 targets. First one is to make my day to day life a bit easier.
Second one is a bit more interesting though, over the last few years I have done 3 obstacle course races, 2 12k total warriors and a 15k rough runner. I love going them, especially the total warrior because it’s more natural obstacles, mud pits and rivers etc. Takes me between 4 and 5 hours to get round. I want to be able to run one like I could when I was younger, after running one I will want to run another and another and another.
Thanks for the offer of nagging it will help. I think I will throw up a post on here once a week with my progress, it will help me and may just help others too.
Sounds great you’ve made a start. Personally as you are by your own admission a few kilos overweight, I’d just walk it for a few weeks, fast as you need to and or uphill, it will be a lot better for your joints and ligaments etc. than trying to run until you get your weight down a bit. Your risk of injury is quite high when first starting out and it’s easy to strain or tear something when it’s weak or over loaded.
Play the long game, consistency wins overall.
The running bit is more of a slow jog, my ankles, knees and 1 hip have been in constant pain for years now so I’m taking it very slow and I have no problem repeating weeks if I’m not ready for the step up.
Considering how fit I used to be in my younger days its amazing how fast things go down hill.
@peter I’m a running novice, only started at Christmas. I started as you did with the Couch to 5k app and I have to say it is astonishing. I was utterly rubbish when I started and now run 5k without any bother (except for a creaky calf, but I am knocking on a bit). I actually ran 10k a few days ago, a personal best for me. When I started the program, the 1 minute run had me breathing out of my arse and desperate for the walking interval.
If you’ll allow me, I’d like to offer the following advice: if you’re road running, get some seriously cushioned trainers, something with a really thick sole. Your old gym trainers won’t cut it. I like Hokas, but go with what fits. Your knees will thank you. Secondly, go slow. Slow as you can, then slow down some more. People probably see me and think, “Aw, bless him – look at that old man going for a shuffle”. It’s kilometres that count, not speed. Small steps is the way to go, not striding out with your lovely long legs. That’s for the pros.
My partner started the program after me (Feb, I think) and has seen similar huge gains. I’m still burning her off, though, because I’m a BLOKE 😀
Hats off to you for starting, sir, stay with it and the rewards will be fast and large. BTW, there’s a bit of a shocker at around, IIRC, week 6 where you go from running for 10 minutes to 20 minutes. And you think “No WAY”. Yes way. It’s surprisingly doable.
To anyone considering taking up running, the BBC Couch to 5k app is free and wonderful.
BTW, I didn’t stick rigidly to the program, I had to take some large-ish gaps and repeated at least 3 of the weeks to compensate. Still worked like a charm.
Thank you for the advice, I’m glad you mentioned about blowing out of your arse, that was me this morning.
I’m definitely going to invest in some better trainers, last time I tried running about a year ago I ended up crippled with shin pain and I could feel it starting towards the end today.
I know I definitely pushed too hard previously hence I’m looking for a bit more structure.
I would love to get the Mrs out too but at the moment even a 30 minute brisk walk is too much for her but she is working on it, the slow shuffle with the dog has progressed to an actual walk without stopping to rest.
Although the average lung capacity is 5.8l on average most males only use approx. 2l on a regular basis. Capacity is the volume that can be inflated, at best, with pressure, use is determined by exercise. The more exercise frequently undertaken, the greater will be the lung use. A couch potato may use less than the 2l, so getting off their arse and exercising will rapidly give a large percentage increase. A fit male who exercises hard and regularly will already be near max capacity and so will find a large increase difficult to achieve.
Couch potatoes should be getting out there and trying to do something to help themselves, fit people should continue to try but a little bit harder. We can all improve.