Blood oxygen saturation levels measure the efficiency and intensity of workouts, but they can also indicate underlying health risks and disease.
Blood oxygen saturation (abbreviated SpO2) is a measure of how much oxygen the blood is carrying. This is often measured with a pulse oximeter without using a needle. SpO2 is a percentage of how much oxygen is in your blood compared to the maximum it is capable of carrying. Typically, when red blood cells pass through the lungs, 95%-100% of them are loaded, or “saturated,” with oxygen. Generally, more than 89% of your red blood should be carrying oxygen at any given time.
How Pulse Oximeters Work
Beams of red and infrared light from the pulse oximeter device pass through the bloodstream to measure the percentage of hemoglobin. You will not feel this happen. Measuring this way is possible because hemoglobin is a different color with and without oxygen, and absorbs different amounts of light depending on the oxygen level. The difference between the amount of absorption provides an accurate level of oxygen saturation.
Know Your Blood Oxygen Saturation Level
The body lives off of oxygen as an energy source, and it keeps the body functioning normally. Most people need a minimum SpO2 level of 89% to maintain healthy cells. Anything lower can cause strain on the heart, lungs, and liver and keep the body from functioning properly.
Low SpO2 levels are known as hypoxia and can be a sign of lung disease or sleep apnea. Low SpO2 levels may necessitate supplemental oxygen to maintain healthy functioning and prevent long-term damage to the cells. Other potential causes of hypoxia include asthma, emphysema, pneumonia, heart problems, and anemia.
When exercising, SpO2 levels indicate how much oxygen is reaching the muscles during a regular workout. It is important to know SpO2 levels just after activity. High blood oxygen levels mean the body will transport oxygen throughout the body quicker, indicating efficient and intense workouts. Low blood oxygen levels mean the body will send oxygen to the muscles at a much slower rate, causing fatigue and a less effective workout.
Improving Blood Oxygen Levels
1. Exercise. The body has to work to keep SpO2 levels up during exercise, which over time can increase SpO2 levels when not exercising. One hour of aerobic exercise such as brisk walking, jogging, swimming, or dancing at least three times a week can significantly improve SpO2 levels.
2. Fresh Air. Increase the amount of oxygen you breathe. Exercise outside often, open windows, and increase the live plants in your home and office to improve your fresh oxygen intake.
4. Deep Breathing. Practice deep breathing for a few minutes each day to correct oxygen deficiency. Fill the lungs to full capacity by expanding the chest and abdomen.
Biostrap can help you track this important vital.* Understanding your blood oxygen levels is not only helpful to those who exercise; it’s also imperative for those who may suffer from low blood oxygen levels, such as those diagnosed with Sleep Apnea.
*Biostrap is not intended for diagnosing or treating medical conditions.