The air we breathe is a mixture of gases. Nitrogen is the most prominent with roughly 79%, then Oxygen at 20.9% and a mixture of other smaller gasses making up our atmosphere. As we ascend a mountain or go to a higher altitude, the air is described as becoming thinner with less available molecules per breath. This is due to lower atmospheric (air) pressure.
Simulated altitude rooms operate at lower oxygen levels. By reducing the percentage of available oxygen, altitude rooms simulate altitude conditions without lowering air pressure. This is called a Normobaric (sea level) Hypoxic (low oxygen) environment. Altitude rooms can be set at sea level (20.9% O2) through to 5000m (11.5% O2).
The goal of training in a high altitude training room is to stimulate adaptation to hypoxia. Hypoxia is a term used to describe a drop in blood oxygen levels. These adaptations are multisystemic with haematological (Blood) and Endocrine (Hormonal) responses working to help the body maintain normal oxygen delivery to the cells for energy production. Here's everything you need to know about our new high altitude training room at CBB Fit.
Improved aerobic condition and endurance
Research focused on mountaineers and endurance athletes often quote the Erythropoietin (EPO) Response. Stimulated by hypoxia, the kidneys express EPO signalling the bone marrow to produce more red blood cells (oxygen carrying cells). (4,5) Research suggests that adaptation to hypoxia through altitude training offers a major benefit to aerobic condition and improved endurance, this results in improved oxygen delivery and utilisation without increasing the muscular skeletal load or exercise time. (2,3)
Health and Well-being
The results of adaptation to hypoxic conditions of altitude have been well documented especially in the field of sports performance. However, research suggests that theses adaptations also have potential medical applications for heart protection and the cardiovascular system. (6) The adaptations are also found to enhance the positive outcomes of exercise, reduce metabolic risk factors and improve glycaemic control.(7,8,9) Physical exercise and even deep breathing produces endorphins (chemicals in the brain that act as natural painkillers) improving your ability to sleep, which in turn reduces stress. Altitude training has the potential to reduce levels of psychological stress and anxiety without the impact stress or muscular skeletal load associated with high intensity exercise.
Evidence of increased weight loss in the non-athletic population has been shown in several studies. One study (8) showed a reduction in triglycerides and body fat levels suggesting greater lipid oxidation following a 4 week (60 min 3 x per week) moderate intensity protocol at 15% O2 (3000m) compared to the normoxic control group. The control group worked at the same cardiovascular level but with more intensity (impact). Similar results were seen in a low intensity walking study (10). Key here is the occurrence of metabolic stimulus at a lower mechanical load, valuable to obese persons starting an exercise programme who may also be exercise impaired. Other hypoxic stimulated responses include the increased production of the hunger suppressing hormone Leptin and enhanced glucose transportation. (7, 11, 12,)
Unlike living and training at real altitude, it is possible to keep quality exercise with combined hypoxic and sea level protocols, thus limiting muscle atrophy. Possibly the most exciting theory is that altitude training could not only help maintain or stimulate muscle growth, but, with the right protocol, it could be more productive than sea level resistance training by stimulating growth with less muscular skeletal load. This could be of great benefit to older clients or clients returning from injury or illness. Resistance training during acute exposure to hypoxia before returning to normal sea level conditions has been shown to provide a positive impact on training and adaptive response (13). Resistance training in hypoxia (13% O2) caused greater increases in lactate (an indication of exercise
intensity), epinephrine, norepinephrine, and growth hormone. (14) These findings suggest that resistance training under altitude induced hypoxia caused greater hormonal responses and greater increases in muscular endurance than that under normoxic conditions.
Improved sleep and stress management
When stress affects the brain, with its many nerve connections, the rest of the body feels the impact as well. So it stands to reason that if your body feels better, so does your mind. Exercise and other physical activity produce endorphins—chemicals in the brain that act as natural painkillers—and also improve the ability to sleep, which in turn reduces stress. Meditation, acupuncture, massage therapy, even breathing deeply can cause your body to produce endorphins. It therefor makes sense that a workout of low to moderate intensity in an altitude room makes you feel energized and healthy.
Our High Altitude Training Tips
Simulated high altitude training is conducted in a low oxygen environment. As with all other forms of exercise you should complete an adult pre exercise screening form. Consult your GP if you have any doubts or are advised to do so by your physical trainer or coach. Altitude tolerance in not about athletic ability. Everyone should start slowly with short introductory sessions and monitor response. Even in group classes, trainers will establish individual goals and levels of intensity. Avoid altitude training if you are sick, have any contraindications or if advised to do so by your GP.
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The information in this presentation is not intended to and cannot provide you with health or medical advice; only your health care provider can do that. Do not use the information in this presentation or information on cbbblvd.com to treat any disease or condition. Always speak to a medical professional about your medical issues. The information contained is not a substitute for medical advice. Please consult your health care provider before beginning any health related program.
- Lhamo Y. Sherpa, Deji, Hein Stigum, Virasakdi Chongsuvivatwong, Dag S. Thelle and Espen Bjertness. Obesity in Tibetans Aged 30–70 Living at Different Altitudes under the North and South Faces of Mt. Everest. Int J Environ Res Public Health. Apr 2010
- Robertson, E., Saunders, P., Pyne, D., Gore, C., Anson, J. (2010). Effectiveness of intermittent training in hypoxia combined with live high/train low. Eur J Appl Physiol. 110(2):379-87.
- Millet, G., Roels, B., Schmitt, L., Woorons, X., Richalet, J. (2010). Combining hypoxic methods for peak performance. Sports Med. 40(1):1-25
- Bartsch, P. Saltin, B. (2008). General Introduction to altitude adaptation and mountain sickness. Scand J Med Sci Sports. Aug;18 Suppl 1:1-10
- Saunders, P. Pyne, D., Gore, C. (2009). Endurance training at altitude. High Alt Med Biol. 10(2):135-48.
- Robert T. Mallet Myoung-Gwi Ryou Arthur G. Williams Jr. Linda Howard H. Fred Downeyb1- Adrenergic receptor antagonism abrogates cardioprotective effects of intermittent hypoxia. 2006
- Shu-Man Chen1, Hsueh-Yi Lin2, and Chia-Hua Kuo. Altitude Training Improves Glycemic Control
- Haufe S, Wiesner S, Engeli S, Luft FC, Jordan J. (2008). Influences of normobaric hypoxia training on metabolic risk markers in human subjects. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 40(11):1939-44
- Aritz Urdampilleta & Pedro González-Muniesa & María P. Portillo & J. Alfredo Martínez. Usefulness of combining intermittent hypoxia and physical exercise in the treatment of obesity
- Nikolaus C. Netzer, Roland Chytra, and Thomas Küpper Low intense physical exercise in normobaric hypoxia leads to more weight loss in obese people than low intense physical exercise in normobaric sham hypoxia 2004
- Ambrosini G, Nath AK, Sierra-Honigmann MR, Flores-Riveros J. (2002). Transcriptional activation of the human leptin gene in response to hypoxia. Involvement of hypoxia-inducible factor 1. J Biol Chem. 13;277(37):34601-9
- Wang B, Wood IS, Trayhurn P. (2008). Hypoxia induces leptin gene expression and secretion in human preadipocytes: differential effects of hypoxia on adipokine expression by preadipocytes. J Endocrinol. 198(1):127-34
- Nishimura A, Sugita M, Kato K, Fukuda A, Sudo A, Uchida A. (2010). Hypoxia increases muscle hypertrophy induced by resistance training. Int J Sports Physiol Perform. 5(4):497-508
- Kon M, Ikeda T, Homma T, Akimoto T, Suzuki Y, Kawahara T. (2010). Effect of acute hypoxia 13% on hormonal responses to resistance exercise. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 42(7):1279-85.