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Your aerobic fitness is a reflection of your ability to take oxygen from the atmosphere and use it to produce energy for your muscle cells. Many factors influence aerobic fitness, including your lung efficiency, cardiac function, gender, age, training status and genetic makeup. Understanding the various components of aerobic fitness will help you train smarter to achieve optimal performance.

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By definition, aerobic fitness refers to your ability to transport and utilize oxygen, measured by VO2 max, the maximal amount of oxygen you can use during intense exercise. Exercise scientist Len Kravitz, PhD of the University of New Mexico explains that VO2 max is influenced by central and peripheral components.
The central component involves the ability of your lungs, heart and vascular system to deliver oxygen to your muscles via your blood stream. The peripheral component involves the ability of your muscle cells to extract oxygen from your blood and use it to make ATP, the fundamental unit of energy. VO2 max values are lower in women, and decrease incrementally with age.
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