I first heard about the pulse oximeter when I was younger. You know when you’re watching ER (I’m dating myself — everyone watches Grey’s Anatomy now) and you hear a flurry of medical speech? “Heart rate dropping! BP 140/60, pulse-ox 90…” That last bit is a pulse oximeter reading. But these machines aren’t just for hospitals any more. Pulse oximeters are becoming popular with athletes and small medical practices too, as a quick, pain-free way to find out how oxygenated the blood is.
When you exercise, oxygen is carried to your muscles via the bloodstream. This is why you breathe heavily; more activity from the muscles means more oxygen is required to keep your body moving. This is an essential performance issue, so you can see why a pulse oximeter is a helpful device. Athletes can monitor their blood-oxygen levels in real-time as they train simply by clipping the small device onto their finger. It also shows the heartrate, which is another essential training statistic.
Now that these devices have moved out of the ER and into small, cell-phone-sized devices that cost less than $100, there’s no excuse for athletes not to own one and take care of their bodies as they train.