Discovery Vitality highlights VO2 Max’s impact on health outcomes

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The panel discussion on VO2 max at Discovery's headquarters.

A new white paper released by Discovery Vitality recently discussed the significance of cardiorespiratory fitness, measured as VO2 max, as a crucial health risk indicator. The research, which utilizes data from Discovery’s lifestyle information, clinical screening results, and insurance claims, emphasizes the health benefits of enhancing cardiorespiratory fitness. Improved VO2 max levels are linked to reduced risks of cardiovascular diseases, certain cancers, and diabetes.

Cardiorespiratory fitness as a health metric

According to Discovery’s experts, VO2 max measures the maximum amount of oxygen the body can use during exercise, reflecting overall cardiorespiratory fitness. The findings indicate that even a moderate improvement in VO2 max can lower the risk of death by 21-30%. Individuals with higher cardiorespiratory fitness experience significant health advantages, including a 30% reduction in hospital claims and lower prevalence of obesity, high blood glucose levels, and high blood pressure.

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New programme updates

In response to these insights, Discovery Vitality is introducing two updates to its programme: a rewards points system based on cardiorespiratory fitness levels and a new exercise platform called Vitality Fitness. This platform allows members to book a range of workouts provided by gyms and fitness studios nationwide through the Discovery app.

Vitality CEO Dinesh Govender highlighted the importance of the research, stating, “The insights from this research on cardiorespiratory fitness are crucial in addressing the global epidemic of physical inactivity and its associated health risks.” Dr Mosima Mabunda, Vitality’s Head of Wellness, added that wearable technology and the Vitality Fitness Assessment enable members to estimate their VO2 max, providing a valuable health benchmark.

Prof Jon Patricios of Wits University emphasized the accessibility and affordability of aerobic-based exercise as a disease prevention strategy in a country with stretched health resources.

Incentives for members

Starting July 2024, Vitality members will be incentivized to monitor and improve their VO2 max, with the opportunity to earn up to 10,000 Vitality points. VO2 max readings will be categorized into five levels: low, fair, good, excellent, and superior. The greatest health benefits are seen when individuals improve from a low to a fair level.

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