Effects of Obesity on VO2 Peak: A Comprehensive Study


Obesity is referred to the health condition that includes increased adiposity and leads to create various complications such as cardiac disease, stroke and others. The VO2 peak in obesity and in general indicates the maximum rate of oxygen able to be used by the body during exercise (Chooi et al., 2019). In obese people VO2 is found to be lower as the level of VO2 is inversely proportional to fast mass that is the more presence of fat in the body, the lower VO2 level is recorded in the individual (by Borasio et al., 2021). In this study, the way different impairments developed in obesity leads to lower VO2 peak is to be explained.

In the study Dixon and Peters (2018), it is mentioned that mechanical properties of chest wall and lung are significantly changed in obese individual due to increased deposition of fat in the abdominal cavities and mediastinum. The change causes reduced expansion and compliance of the chest wall, lungs and entire respiratory system to allow enhanced amount of oxygenated air to enter the system leading to negatively affect the breathing pattern of the individuals. This is because of the lack of enhanced contract ability of the lungs and chest wall which leads to avoid enhanced expansion of the diaphragm and outward movement of chest wall. The condition creates negative pressure in the pleural space and lowers breathing efficiency in individuals which leads to reduction of VO2 peak level. This is because increased amount of oxygen demanded to be used during exercise for stable VO2 peak in obese people is unable to enter the pulmonary area out of restricted movement of the system due to deposition of fat in thoracic and abdominal cavities (Fitzgerald, 2017).


In comparison, the study by Milton and Martina (2019) emphasises that reduced VO2peak is experienced in obese individuals due to airway narrowing and closure. The study mentions that increased deposition of fat in the thoracic region in obese people creates pressure on the airways leading them to be narrowed or closed in severe condition. The narrowing and closure of the airways in obese individuals causes gas or air trapping along with instigate ventilation inhomogeneity. It creates barriers towards smooth flow of increased oxygenate air and removal of increased carbon dioxide from the lungs during physical activity by the obese people causing low VO2 peak level to be recorded. This is because to ensure higher and normal VO2 peak to be present in individuals, the airways are to allow expanded flow of oxygenated air and removal of increased carbon dioxide developed during physical activity to be removed with expansion of the airways (De and Rastogi, 2019).

In contrast, the study by Umamaheswari et al., (2017) informed that impairment of the respiratory muscles in obese individuals may led to reduction in the VO2 peak level in the obese individuals. The impairment of the respiratory muscles is multi-factorial indicating that it may be caused due to various presence of health factors in obese people such as increased respiratory effort, distension of the muscles of the diaphragm and hindered biomechanism of the pulmonary muscles due to deposition of increased fat in the abdominal and thoracic region. The impairment of respiratory muscles creates lower lung volume and decreased inspiration and expiration pressure that leads lower maximisation of the lung to allow enhanced amount of oxygen to enter the lungs to be used during exercise by obese individuals. Moreover, the study by Sarma et al., (2020) mentioned that when the obese individuals are exercising in supine position, the increased weight of the abdomen leads the diaphragm in the chest to descend that resulting in closing the small airways present at the base of the lungs. It leads to create barrier for the obese individuals to be unable to inhale increased amount of required oxygen from the air to maintain stable VO2 level.

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Borasio, N., Neunhaeuserer, D., Gasperetti, A., Favero, C., Baioccato, V., Bergamin, M., Busetto, L., Foletto, M., Vettor, R. and Ermolao, A., 2021. Ventilatory Response at Rest and During Maximal Exercise Testing in Patients with Severe Obesity Before and After Sleeve Gastrectomy. Obesity Surgery, 31(2), pp.694-701.

Chooi, Y.C., Ding, C. and Magkos, F., 2019. The epidemiology of obesity. Metabolism, 92, pp.6-10.

De, A. and Rastogi, D., 2019. Association of pediatric obesity and asthma, pulmonary physiology, metabolic dysregulation, and atopy; and the role of weight management. Expert review of endocrinology & metabolism, 14(5), pp.335-349.

Dixon, A.E. and Peters, U., 2018. The effect of obesity on lung function. Expert review of respiratory medicine, 12(9), pp.755-767.

Milton, J.A. and Martina, A.T., 2019. Aerobic capacity in Obese School going children between 11 and 14 Years of Age: A cross Sectional Study. SCOPUS IJPHRD CITATION SCORE, 10(5), p.156.

Sarma, S., MacNamara, J., Livingston, S., Samels, M., Haykowsky, M.J., Berry, J. and Levine, B.D., 2020. Impact of severe obesity on exercise performance in heart failure with preserved ejection fraction. Physiological Reports, 8(22), p.e14634.

Umamaheswari, K., Dhanalakshmi, Y., Karthik, S., Niraimathi, D., Umadevi, S.V. and John, N.A., 2017. VO2Max and Body Mass in Overweight and Obese Young Adults. CHAIRMAN, EDITORIAL BOARD, 5(2), p.23.

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