I am no superman

Recently I took part in a health assessment here at the University. Over 75% of the employees have signed up to take part in this wellness program provided by Interactive Health Solutions. Monday, I went to have my blood work done to kickoff my part in the program.

The first thing I learned is that my blood pressure was normal. I could tell that simply by watching the little monitor connected to the tube attached to the inflated sleave on my arm. I would have to wait a little while to find out the information revealed by the two vials of blood the technician pulled out of me.

That came the next day. Turns out I’m a pretty healthy guy… except for a moderately elevated cholesterol level. Of course, the last time I had blood work done, I was told the same thing. The number hasn’t changed over those five years — 206.

I’m not discounting that and as I grow older I am more inclined to do what I can to bring that number down. I’m pretty sure the wellness program is going to help me in that whether I want to do it or not! That is the next step in the program — being told what my target is to better my health. I figure since everthing else checked out, it will have to focus in on this one aspect.

However, that wasn’t the line I was most interested in. As a cyclist, I scanned down through the various blood values looking for the word Hematocrit. The is the blood value that has been studied at length when it comes to endurance sports. Simply put the number gives you an indication of how well your body gets oxygen to your muscles.

According to the information that came with my report, hematocrit is the measurement¬† of the amount of space (volume) red blood cells take up in the blood. The value is given as a percentage of red blood cells in a volume of blood. For example, a hematocrit of 38 means that 38% of the blood’s volume is made of red blood cells. The greater the volume of red blood cells the better flow of oxygen to your muscles.

The normal range for your typical male is 37.5 to 51. Though I believe the average is more like in the low 40s. That is exactly where I fall — 44. I figure that is my “resting” level. I have not done a lot of streneous training recently — which would bring the number down. Nor have I been training at altitude or sleeping in a hypoix chamber — which would bring the number up.

So, once again, I learn that I am just a normal joe. No high end number like 48 or so. At least folks will know that I’m not doping with EPO.

I don’t like to think about it too much. Getting fascinated with numbers like these and looking for ways to change them is a step in a scary direction. It is that quest that has lead even amateur racers to make some unwise decisions.

I can look at the bright side… at least I now have an excuse for being average. I will be looking forward to seeing how the levels change in my next checkup. You can rest assured, I will be working more to change my cholesterol level than I will my hematocrit score.