Why I Check my Oxygen Levels When I Ride

I have been trying to get ready for a the Avenue of the Oaks Century on May 1 and my training has been inconsistent at best….insert excuses here. Today I was able to spend 2 hours on a ride and I wanted to push a bit harder that normal.

SInce I no longer go to cardiac rehab. I try to mirror what the “maintenance” program I was on did when it comes to protocol. Each time I went to rehab the workout started with the following:

  1. Weigh myself.
  2. Relax and sit in a chair (of my own choice I closed my eyes and relaxed my whole body durigng the next steps).
  3. They would hook up the blood pressure cuff, and oxygen monitor.
  4. Then take the reading for my BP, resting HR & Oxygen level.

I do my best to do  all of the above things before I do any type of workout or riding (I’m in the market for a new blood pressure monitor as the electric one I had been using was not accurate when I brought with me to an appointment with my doctor and compared it with hers). Now during the cardiac rehab sessions they would check my oxygen levels 2-3 times, more if I was trying something new or pushing up a level of intensity. At home I only check it before I workout and occasionally after my cool down and when I push myself (now getting to the point of this entry) like I did today. Since I was heading out to ride twice as long as had I the past weeks I decided to take my Nonin Onyx Fingertip Oximeter with me to check throughout my ride. I want to point out at this point that this is same monitor 1 of my doctors uses, and 2 of my rehabs use so that is how I qualified it’s purchase. (one other point it is a nice way to check the accuracy of my heart rate monitor as well).

Today I used at the first sign of feeling like the ride should have been a bit easier and I didn’t believe my HRM, it was correct the oximeter read 138bpm and 98%O2. The next time was after a moderate climb and I hit 164 bpm (my doc say to stay under 160) Oximeter read 161bpm ( it took a few seconds to stop and put it on my finger) and 96% O2. It is also a good thing to have when I’m sucking wind and I can be sure it’s just from being out of shape vs a true loss of O2. I used it one more time when I started to feel tired and then after my cool down. I probably won’t bring it with me on a ride again until I do the century on May 1.

It is a useful tool to have if you work out on your own. It provides me with 2 things, 1: Ability to let me doctor know more information about my health & 2. Oxygen content of your blood is only a small factor when determining your risk for a cardiac event but it does provide me with a bit of assurance that my heart is doing O.K.

KEEPriding,

Eric

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2 thoughts on “Why I Check my Oxygen Levels When I Ride

  1. I have always wondered about the oxygen level, and if there is a way to increase this number?

    When tested it is always around 96-98, but I have seen an elderly lady with 100?

  2. Good question. I haven’t really looked into that. I know that Yoga breathing techniques can get more oxygen into your lungs which can translate into more O2 available to be sent to your blood, but I don’t know if it actually increase the O2 level. I have also read that high altitude climbers train to breath through their nose because you can take in more air that way.

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