ALTITUDE AND PERFORMANCE
I. PHYSICS OF ALTITUDE
Medium altitude - ________________ feet - in relation to athletics, we are
concerned with this altitude range
High altitude - greater than ___________ feet. More than 40 million people live
and work between 10,000 ft. (3048 meters) and 18,000 ft. (5486 meters).
Barometric (air) pressure ___decreases___ as altitude increases (ie) as the weight
of the column of air above the point of measurement ____decreases____.
However, the chemical composition of the atmosphere is ___uniform____ up to
PO2in dry ambient air at sea level = .209 X 760 mm Hg = 160 mmHg
PO2in dry ambient air at 3048 meters (10,000 ft.) = .209 X 510 mm Hg = 107 mm Hg.
PO in dry ambient air at summit of Mt Everest - 8848 meters (29,028 ft.)
= .209 X 250 mm Hg = 52 mm Hg.
[As you go up higher, barometric pressure decreases but chemical composition
remains the same.]
Oxyhemoglobin dissociation curve - only a small change in percent saturation of
hemoglobin is observed with decreasing PO 2ntil an altitude of about 10,000 ft.
Measurable __negative___effects on VO max. have been noted at altitudes as low
as 4000 ft.
The critical alveolar P2 at which an unacclimatized person loses consciousness
within a few minutes during acute exposure to___hypoxia___occurs at an altitude
Decreased ___density___of air decreased external ai___resistance___
external work is___decreased__at altitude in sprint type activities where high 2
velocities are involved. There will also be less air resistance encountered by
Air temperature ___decreases___linearly by 6.5 C per 1000 meters of altitude or
2 C (3 F) per 1000 ft.
Air becomes increasingly _dry__ with increasing altitude water loss via
respiratory tract ___higher__at high altitude.
Solar radiation - UV radiation is __more__ intense at high altitude sunburn,
Force of gravity is decreased with distance from the earth's center higher
altitudes should have a favourable effect on jumping and throwing events.
II. IMMEDIATE AND LONGER ADJUSTMENTS TO ALTITUDE
A. Cardiovascular System
VO 2 (HR X SV) X (C O - C Oa 2 7 - 10 days
12,000 ft. --> 15 - 21 days
15,000 ft. --> 21 - 25 days
The length of time required depends to a large extent on the __individual___. A
few people will never acclimatize and will continue to suffer mountain sickness.
Acclimatization to one altitude ensures only partial acclimatization to a higher
High altitude exposure for periods longer than two weeks results in a significant
reduction is both body fat and lean body mass due mostly to __a decrease in
The benefits of acclimatization are probably lost within 2 or 3 weeks after
returning to sea level.
III. ALTITUDE TRAINING AND SEA LEVEL PERFORMANCE
A. Altitude Training
In order to attain top achievement at altitudes of 6500 feet or higher, endurance
athletes should acclimatize for __2-3 weeks____ before their major competition.
Non-endurance athletes may arrive close to the time of competition.
During the first few days at altitude, athletes may experience acute mountain
sickness, which may hinder their training.
Since VO m2x. is decreased at altitude, intensity of training must be
__decreased____. However, this problem can be solved by living at altitude, but
going down to lower altitudes for few hours per day to _train__ – “ ___sleep high,
train low____”. 6
It is not necessary to train at a higher altitude than the actual place of