While many of us know that exercise is a great way to shed the pounds and add that desirable lean mass, exercise is also important and our health and fitness levels are reflected when get our blood levels checked.
It is important to know your values because they are a baseline for your health. Sure, you may have muscles on top of muscles, but if you’ve got elevated cholesterol, you may be setting yourself up for health consequences in later life. Additionally, knowing your levels can help with nutritional modification to help balance your blood sugar and cholesterol levels.
Think of your blood as the mailman for your system. It carries nutrients, electrolytes, hormones, heat, healing factors and oxygen. It is also your body’s trash man – delivering waste to your kidneys and liver. Below are list of stats that EVERYBODY should know:
Ideal: 120 / 80
Importance: your blood pressure has a range from high to low that can fluctuate, depending on your activities. Your arteries and veins are elasticated and can adapt to these changes in pressure. However, having blood pressure that is too high will begin to damage the arterial and venous walls as well as blood-processing organs such as the kidneys. You should get your blood pressure checked a few times a year.
Ideal: LDL <100mg/dL; HDL >40mg/dL; non-HDL <130mg/dL
Importance: while it is an essential component of our sex hormones, as well as a constituent in our cellular walls, too much cholesterol building up in our bodies clogs arteries and dramatically increases your changes of heart disease and risk of stroke. Getting a lipid test done annually is a good idea.
Ideal: 60-100 bpm; (athletes may have a lower resting heart rate)
Importance: similar to your blood pressure, having a high resting heart rate increases your risk for heart disease. Essentially, your heart is working harder than it should be. Trained athletes, as well as those who exercise regularly can have resting heart rates below 60 bpm. This means their bodies (and hearts) are more efficient at circulating the red stuff. You can monitor your own heart rate by checking your pulse (carotid or radial) when you are at rest (wait 10-15 minutes before doing this), and monitor it for a few weeks.
Ideal: <100mg/dL (fasting)
Importance: your blood naturally carries sugars to provide nutrients to areas in need, a normal process. However, when your levels are on the rise, you increase your risk for diabetes and subsequent health risks. If your blood sugar levels are between 100-125 mg/dL, than you are entering the stages of pre-diabetes, scary stuff. When you get your blood checked on an annual or semi-annual basis, your blood sugar is also included on the blood chemistry profile.
Ideal: A, B, O or AB
Importance: your blood is determined by proteins called antigens on your red blood cells. In addition to the A, B antigen; there is also something called Rh factor, which is positive or negative. It is important to know what type you are, should you ever run into an emergency where you require blood. Type O blood, for example is a universal donor to A, B, AB. Type A can donate to A, AB. Type B can donate to B, AB. Type AB-positive, for example is always in short supply at blood banks because it is valued for its plasma. So if you’re not afraid of needles, help save a life and give. For more info, check out the Red Cross: http://www.redcrossblood.org/learn-about-blood/blood-types