How To Measure Your Progress

Measuring our progress regularly is one of the most important steps to feeling better. Whether we are trying a new breathing technique, a new exercise, or a different diet regime, the best way to ascertain whether we’ve improved is to measure our progress on a regular basis. In our Challenge Yourself section, we have created simple ways to begin the process of measuring our progress.


Measure Your Oxygen Saturation with a Pulse Oximeter

One easy way for IPF patients to measure their progress is to determine their oxygen saturation (SpO2 reading).  This is the percentage of blood that is loaded with oxygen, and can help inform how a patient is progressing with treatment by measuring how much oxygen we are getting in with our current breathing.  “Normal” ranges are from 95 to 99 percent.  IPF patients can have much lower ranges, and a good goal is to try to increase your SpO2 level by engaging in one or more of our challenges and measuring regularly.  Try to bring your SpO2 level up one percent in 2 weeks by doing breathing exercises every day.

How?  Pulse oximeters measure your pulse through your finger with LEDs.  Modern smartphones have the ability to measure your SpO2 level if you download an app and measure your finger pulse against the light.  Samsung smartphones have built-in pulse oximeter LEDs especially tailored to take this measurement.  Many of us Samsung users may not have realized that our phones have a pre-installed application called Samsung Health, which has a built-in pulse oximeter that is extremely accurate!  This goes to show how important this measurement is for overall health.  If you do not have a Samsung smartphone, you can easily download a pulse oximeter application for around $5 and get a decent measurement.  For those who are more traditional, you can order a pulse oximeter from various sources online from $10-$20.

Record your data.  Take your SpO2 reading 2-3 times to get an average read, and record it daily.  When you begin doing regular breathing exercises, taking a new enzyme or medicine, or trying daily challenges, record your levels before and afterwards.  Measure your progress by writing it down in a chart like the one below or in our challenges section.

Week of (Monday’s Date): Monday, ___/___/2018
8AM / waking
12PM / midday
8PM / bedtime
After exercise
Goal SpO2 for next Monday _________________

NOTES ________________________________________________________________________

For more details, the World Health Organization (WHO) offers a detailed tutorial on pulse oximeters.

Try the Six Minute Walk Test

The Six Minute Walk Test is a simple way to measure your aerobic exercise capacity.  This test is conducted by simply walking as far as possible by pacing back and forth at your normal pace for six minutes and recording your distance and physical response.

The test should be conducted on a regular basis, preferably alongside a new treatment regime (such as an oral treatment or new regularly-conducted breathing exercise), to monitor your response to the treatment over time.  For example, if you are about to begin a new breathing technique for two weeks, you should record your result from the Six Minute Walk Test before you begin the practice, a couple times during the week, and finally after two weeks of regularly performing the breathing exercise to see if your result has improved.

For more details, the American Lung Association provides instructions on how to conduct the Six Minute Walk Test.



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