We have developed an award winning wearable oximeter that works with our Aithre Connect iOS app to display real-time and 12 hour trend data of your blood oxygen and heart rate. This technology was awarded top products of the year by Aviation Consumer magazine for its innovation.
Today we decided to take this oximeter, the Illyrian, out for high altitude exercise to test the results of oxygen use during high intensity exercise. We noticed that we may have been keeping our heart rate extremely low during exercise while climbing baldy, so we wanted more information.
At 8k feet, Galena was a perfect place to take our oxygen bottle and Illyrian oximeter out for testing. There are hundreds of miles of XC skiing trails - all groomed and easily accessible. Plus the Galena lodge offers drinks, so we had a place to recover.
I always expected our blood oxygen levels to be the primary beneficiary of the supplemental oxygen. In aviation, SPO2 levels can decrease dramatically above 8k, into the 80s and 70s, which is not ideal for the intensity intellectual activity of flying an aircraft. Supplemental oxygen keeps the SPO2 up in the mid 90s, keeping you cognitively alert and active. So, it made sense to believe that during exercise, we'd see our SPO2s come up as a result of oxygen use.
However, what we found was that our blood oxygen levels were all over the place during exercise, both with and without the oxygen. There seemed to be a small positive relationship between oxygen use and higher SPO2 levels, but the relationship was fuzzy. At 8k feet, we weren't high enough I suppose to really depress the oxygen levels further where a more concete relationship could have been observed.
What did happen, though, surprised me. My heart rate was kept very low in the 70s-110s bpm range during fairly intense exercise while using oxygen. It fluctuated up and down depending on how much exertion I was engaged in, but never rose above 110, which is very unusual for exercise at 8k feet. At first, I figured there was maybe something clouding my oximeter sensor - perhaps some moisture, sweat, condensation had gotten under the glass. Inspection revealed that was not the case.
So naturally, I removed the oxygen and continued the exercise to see what would happen. After a few minutes I looked at the app again and saw my heart rate spike up to 140. Still fairly low, but this was directly after I removed the oxygen and continued exercise. We've got more exciting 'research' to do on this and will report back our findings