10 common health metrics tracked by professional athletes

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(Stacker) – When the NBA resumed its season after the pandemic shutdowns, it gave many of his players smart rings that measured health metrics, including body temperature, which came in handy for monitoring the spread of COVID-19. But professional sports leagues like the NBA became interested in tracking health metrics to monitor and improve sports performance long before the pandemic. It has become so popular that amateur athletes and weekend warriors have also embraced the health monitoring trend, with an increasing number of devices capable of providing accurate information about their health.

Elite athletes are especially urged to track health metrics to keep them in top shape and are turning to a new class of smart devices and wearables to monitor everything from sleep quality to frequency variability. cardiac. The results can be used in different ways. Some measure an athlete’s performance while they train and can tell them if they are really pushing themselves hard enough. Others, like blood sugar and thyroid hormone levels, are more important to monitor constantly, as athletes need to have optimal levels of both to ensure their best performance. Athletes also use devices that track specific metrics for their sport, such as stroke rate for swimmers and output power for cyclists, which can be essential for training and training.

Guava Health compiled a list of health metrics professional athletes measure and broke down what they reveal about overall health and athletic performance. Keep reading to see how many elite athletes can track to optimize their peak performance.

body composition

Body composition tracking is important for athletes so they can keep tabs on their body fat percentage. According to sports doctors, the closer an athlete’s ideal body mass is to their sport, the better their performance will be. Elite runners, for example, tend to have a body composition of around 8% body fat for men and 12% body fat for women. However, swimmers can want to aim for a higher body fat composition of up to 20% for men and 25% for women.

Heart rate variability

Testing heart rate variability (HRV) allows athletes to measure the effects of stress on their body. HRV measures the difference between heartbeats as they inhale and exhale. A high level of HRV generally indicates higher levels of aerobic and general fitness. One of the benefits of HRV monitoring is that it signals athletes when they are overworking their bodies, which can lead to lower HRV. Common devices used to track heart rate variability include chest straps and finger pulse sensors, both of which can be used easily at home.

Respiratory rate

Your respiratory rate is the number of breaths you take per minute. This can be a particularly useful metric for athletes to track during their training. Without it, athletes can only subjectively assess their own performance based on the intensity of their work. But by tracking respiratory rate, athletes will have objective data showing how much they’re panting, and therefore whether they’re really pushing themselves. It’s even truer for aerobic sports such as cycling and running. Determining your breathing rate is easy: just count the number of breaths you take per minute.

Maximum oxygen supply

Runners in particular may want to track the maximum amount of oxygen they use when they are at their highest physical limit. This reading, also known as VO2 max, is an important indicator of how fast an endurance runner can go for their entire run. Long-distance runners will probably want to keep running below their maximum limits, as this will allow them to travel faster. These levels tend to be consistent for elite runners, which is why you’ll often see runners at the Olympics running in packs. Many wearable devices offer the ability to track VO2 max.

Body temperature

Athletes track their temperature with a simple rule: as it rises, performance tends to fall. The correlation is so strong that it has been found to impact race time for runners. Coaches generally recommend that runners add 10-15% to their race times when running in higher temperatures that heat up their bodies faster. One of the best ways to track temperature is through wearable devices. Many fitness rings that track various metrics can also be used to track temperature.

Blood oxygen level

Athletes can measure their blood oxygen levels with pulse oximeters or wearable devices. These are non-invasive ways to measure oxygen saturation carried in your red blood cells. Tracking blood oxygen levels is one of the most important ways runners prepare for races at different altitudes. The higher the altitude, the lower the concentration of oxygen in the air. This means you don’t get as much oxygen in your bloodstream with each breath, which could impact performance. Tracking blood oxygen lets athletes know if their shortness of breath or decline in performance is due to changes in elevation rather than an actual decline in performance or ability.

Sleep quality

Good sleep is a well-known predictor of health and well-being. For athletes, this is especially important, as the time spent in quality sleep is when an athlete’s body enters a rest and repair mode to counter the physical stress of training. Sleep quality can be affected by stress, which was shown negatively affect athletes the day before a major competition or race. Athletes can use wearable devices to track sleep quality, including time spent in deep, restorative sleep, and can use this information to adjust for better sleep outcomes. For example, if someone learns that they have poorer sleep quality in a warm room, they can turn down the thermostat to sleep better.

Thyroid hormone levels

Thyroid hormones can have a significant impact on the performance of athletes. Indeed, a major figure in the world of sports coaching has been accused to illegally and unnecessarily prescribe thyroid hormones to its runners. Those looking to boost their performance naturally may still want to track thyroid hormone levels. Too low levels can lead to a series of negative performance results. Among these are reduced insulin sensitivity and blood in the heart, which can make it harder for muscles to work at their maximum capacity. The best way to test thyroid levels is through a blood test.

Glucose levels

Low blood sugar can cause problems for athletes. Drops can be especially common among long-distance runners, who typically have to stop running and “re-sugar” if their blood sugar drops too low. Fortunately, there are many ways to track and stabilize blood sugar, and many do to ensure that their levels are high enough for optimal performance. Athletes can use glucometers, including patches that fit on the upper arm, to track their levels continuously throughout the day. The device tracks blood sugar in real time and can help athletes determine if their blood sugar is high enough to perform at their personal best.

Mental health measures

Athletes are increasingly speaking out about the impact mental health can have on their performance. Tennis champion Naomi Osaka has retired from Roland-Garros in 2021 to focus on her mental health. Conversely, working proactively with mental well-being in mind can have a positive impact on sports performance. One of the best ways for athletes to track their mental health is to work with a therapist or performance coach. Working with professionals can help athletes develop mindfulness practices which have been shown to improve performance.

This story originally appeared on Guava Health and was produced and distributed in partnership with Stacker Studio.

The article has been republished under a CC BY-NC 4.0 license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/?ref=chooser-v1

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