Of all the new-fangled techno-whiz products on the market today, the fingertip pulse oximeter might be the coolest of the bunch.
Just clip it on, wait a few seconds and suddenly the gadget lights up with both your heartrate/pulse and your blood-oxygen level.
If you’re an athlete and the numbers flash out “100’’ for blood oxygen and “50’’ for pulse, go to the head of the class.
Actually, scores of 60 to 70 for pulse are fine and 95% to 100% for Sp02 (blood oxygen) are quite acceptable.
But if you’re an avid runner or cyclist and those numbers begin to trend the wrong way, maybe you’re not doing something right.
Barring an underlying medical condition, a physically-fit athlete should have good numbers, including blood pressure.
Monitoring blood-oxygen levels are a key both for competition and general fitness.
A pulse oximeter measures how much oxygen is in someone’s blood. Many people consider oxygen level an important sign of how well a body is working, just like a person’s blood pressure or body temperature.
Oximeters are reasonably priced and can be purchased at a drug store without a prescription. It’s a great way to keep an eye on things.
If your body isn’t getting enough oxygen into its red blood cells, performance might suffer.
So what can be done to get those numbers back to where they belong?
The Hallmark Healthcare website lists five ways to improve your oxygen intake efficiency.
Here are the highlights:
>1. Make changes in your diet: According to Hallmark, antioxidants allow the body to use oxygen more efficiently increasing oxygen intake in digestion. When looking to boost antioxidant intake, the foods to focus on are blueberries, cranberries, red kidney beans, artichoke hearts, strawberries, plums and blackberries, most of which can be consumed in various juices and smoothies.
Another critical protein to consider are essential fatty acids like Vitamin F, which work to increase the amount of oxygen the hemoglobin in the bloodstream can carry. These acids can be found in soybeans, walnuts and flaxseeds.
>2. A breath of fresh air at home: While most people do their best to keep their homes free of dust, air pollutants, etc., it’s an uphill battle.
The most efficient way to augment your furnace/air conditioning units are a couple well-placed air purifiers. They don’t cost a fortune and they will make the oxygen intake to your lungs that much more efficient.
There are a number of air purifiers on the market that can filter the worst of our environmental pollutants. Another helpful “low-tech” tool in reducing pollution in the air and purifying oxygen is a beeswax candle. Unlike traditional candles, beeswax candles do not emit smoke. Instead they produce negative ions that help in the removal of air pollution.
>3. Stick to that exercise regimen: Preferably outdoors. One website claims just running or walking 30 minutes per day outside is better than working out two to three hours in a crowded gymnasium.
As all athletes know, exercise is key to a healthy life. Through aerobic exercise, the body is able to better utilize oxygen while removing waste through the lymphatic system. Aside from the physical health benefits, the act of running, cycling or even walking has been shown to improve mood, confidence, and reduce stress.
>4. Modify your breathing: Now here’s one I didn’t know — what is often an impediment to one’s breathing is the method in which they breathe. It’s recently been discovered that sick people breathe using the upper chest and inhale more air, which causes reduced oxygen levels in the body. In contrast, the correct method to proper breathing, is slow, from the diaphragm, and through the nose, rather than the mouth.
>5. Water, water everywhere. . .Here’s one I did know — the human body is roughly 60 percent water, so it cannot be understated how critical water is to how the body functions: allowing body cells to grow, lubricating our joints and regulating body temperature. When looking to get the full benefits of oxygenation, drink filtered water. Restructured or ionized water is micro-clustered with smaller groupings of water molecules.
This provides high levels of hydration and oxygenation at the cellular level. Keep in mind that caffeinated beverages, alcohol and high sodium foods all dehydrate the body, so keep water with you during the day and get in the habit of drinking it throughout the day. Health professionals recommend eight eight-ounce glasses of water a day.
Oximeters also come in wrist-attachable monitors, so you can track both your blood-oxygen levels and heartbeat during a workout.
When you get home, cool off and see those wonderful 100/50 readings, celebrate with a bowl of ice cream like I do.
Butterfly 5K Run, 9 a.m., Great Valley High School, Malvern. Contact www.runsignup.com