Physiological Effects of High Altitude
The air we breath is a mixute of gasses, predominantly Nitrogen (78%) and Oxygen (20.9%). Although the percentages stay the same at high altitudes, lower atmoshperic pressure creates "thin-air."
When your body is exposed to "thin air," it compensates for reduced oxygen levels by increasing the bloods oxygen-carrying capacity, as well as its ability to use that oxygen. Specifically, your body reacts to the thin air at high altitude by:
These changes result in greater aerobic capacity (VO2 max), anaerobic capacity (the body's ability for explosive performance) and improved endurance - meaning faster speeds at a given exertion level.
Studies have shown that athletes who spend an average of eight hours a day at high altitude will experience the same physiological changes as those who spend all their time at thigh altitude. It typically takes at least three weeks for your body to acclimate to high altitude, although improvements will continue for six months or more.
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