Altitude Training for General Health and Fitness: 3 Case Studies to Read

Altitude Training for General Health and Fitness: 3 Case Studies to Read

The recent literature on Intermittent Hypoxic Training (IHT) shows benefits that go beyond high performance for athletes. Indeed, we see benefits that extend to your average gym-goer training for improved fitness, overall health and disease prevention.

Today we’ll highlight some case studies that show the impact of hypoxic training on general health and fitness populations. The results are also helpful in comparing the outcomes of training at altitude vs. sea-level.

Altitude Training Benefits: Case Studies

1. Effects of systemic hypoxia on human muscular adaptations to resistance exercise training

Oxygen Level (%): 14.4%

Equivalent Elevation (m): 3000 m

Methods: Subjects performed resistance training 2x/week for 8 weeks

Results: IHT resistance training improved cross sectional area of muscles (muscle size), strength and muscular endurance and increased formation of capillaries (improved blood flow) to muscles. In comparison to sea-level training, a greater effect was seen specifically on muscular endurance and capillary density.

Summary:

  • Hypoxic training improved muscular endurance more than the same training sea-level
  • Hypoxic training increased capillary density more than sea-level training
  • Capillary density is important for delivery of blood and oxygen and removal of waste by-products from working tissues.

Read the full paper →

2. Effects of strength training under hypoxic conditions on muscle performance, body composition and haematological variables

Oxygen Level (%): 13.0%

Equivalent Elevation (m): 4000 m

Methods: Participants trained 3 days per week for 7 weeks (3 sets x 65−80% 1RM to failure).

Results: Both groups improved their strength performance and muscle perimeters, but the hypoxia group obtained a greater increase in muscle mass (hypoxia: +1.80% vs. normoxia: +0.38%; p<0.05) and decrease in fat mass (hypoxia: -6.83% vs. normoxia: +1.26%; p<0.05) compared to the normoxia group. Additionally, haematocrit values were also higher for the hypoxia group after the detraining period (hypoxia: +2.20% vs. normoxia: -2.22%; p<0.05).

Summary:

  • Hypoxic group had greater gains in muscle mass and greater decreases in fat mass.
  • For individuals seeking improved health and body composition, hypoxic training can increase muscle mass and decrease fat mass more effectively than normoxic training

Read the full paper →

 

altitude training benefits for general fitness

 

3. The Effects of Aerobic Exercise at Hypoxic Condition during 6 Weeks on Body Composition, Blood Pressure, Arterial Stiffness, and Blood Lipid Level in Obese Women

Oxygen Level (%): 16.5% & 14.5%

Equivalent Elevation (m): 2000 m & 3000 m

Methods:

Subjects: Women, 30-55 years old, BMI > 30 and BF% > 30

Participants were divided into three groups: Sea-level (normoxic), 16.5% O2 (2000 m) moderate altitude, 14.5% O2 (3000 m) high altitude

Participants performed 30 minutes on the treadmill followed by 30 minutes on the bike, 5 times per week for 6 weeks

Results: Both hypoxic groups saw a larger reduction rate of fat mass and % body fat vs. the normoxic group. The 14.5% O2 group saw the most significant decrease in body weight.

Systolic blood pressure significantly improved in both hypoxic groups. Diastolic blood pressure improved in all groups, but more so in both hypoxic groups.

All groups had improvements in LDL (low-density lipoprotein, sometimes called “bad” cholesterol because it collects in the walls of your blood vessels, raising your chances of health problems). Hypoxic training groups improved more than the normoxic group.

Both hypoxic groups showed greater improvements in arterial stiffness compared to the normoxic group.

Summary:

  • Greater improvements in heart rate, blood pressure, cholesterol arterial stiffness and weight loss with hypoxic training compared to normoxic training
  • Both hypoxic groups saw a larger reduction rate of fat mass and % body fat vs. the normoxic group
  • Greater health benefits can be achieved with a lower exercise intensity at simulated altitude compared to sea-level training in overweight individuals

Read the full paper

Alongside performance benefits, simulated altitude training has benefits that contribute to overall health and fitness. So if you’re trying to find the most efficient way to feel good and optimize your time in the gym, let us know and we’ll help you get there with a combination of altitude training and personalized fitness programming.

Speak with one of our coaches about training options for your specific goals.

Altitude Athletic is Toronto’s first and one of the largest altitude training facilities in the world. We’re here to help you prepare for your next big climb, event or meet your health goals. Click here to learn more about what we do at Altitude.

Contact Us

Altitude for Rehab and Re-conditioning

Altitude for Rehab and Re-conditioning

Why altitude training will help your clients get better results during rehab?

Most of us expect to lose some level of conditioning when we get injured. But that doesn’t have to be the case.

Altitude training for sports rehab can be used to create a stimulus that maximizes aerobic output, while reducing training intensity and load on recovering tissue.

Therefore, sessions at simulated altitude (i.e a walk on the treadmill in a simulated altitude chamber or a spin on the bike with an altitude mask) can be done at lower intensities with greater benefit and help recovering clients maintain cardiovascular fitness while injured.

The goal is to mitigate the de-conditioning effect and accelerate the re-conditioning process, providing maximum aerobic adaptations during recovery.

Injuries are never easy, but with intelligent program design and training, clients can get back to full fitness faster and stronger than before.

Minimize De-conditioning, Maximize Re-conditioning

Altitude Athletic can facilitate the return-to-fitness process using specific altitude protocols designed to maintain cardiovascular fitness during injury.

Protocols can be either passive (Intermittent Hypoxic Breathing*) or active and built for varying levels of exercise tolerance.

*Intermittent Hypoxic Breathing (IHB) consists of breathing very low oxygen air from a stationary position (seated) in a series of intervals interspersed with sea-level breathing.

altitude training for sports rehab

Altitude Training for Sports Rehab: Training Recommendations

  • “My client is recovering from an injury and can still exercise.”

If you have a client who can still train actively, use an active intermittent hypoxic training protocol.

For instance, a protocol that has been used for this scenario is 30 minutes of continuous aerobic exercise as close to 75% of max heart rate as possible at 14.5% O2. The goal is to ease the client into a reconditioning program that still elicits a greater performance adaptation. Therefore, reconditioning is more effective and faster than it would have been at sea level.

  • “My client is recovering from an injury and cannot tolerate exercise.”

If your client is struggles to exercise – for example an elderly individual or someone with cardiovascular disease – use a passive breathing protocol. These protocols are based on a tolerance test, for example: 4-6 rounds, 3-5 minutes ON 3-5 minutes OFF at 14.5%-10% O2.

With severely de-conditioned individuals, passive exposures can increase fitness level, aerobic capacity, exercise tolerance, performance and quality of life. Passive exposures can also offset some level of de-conditioning.

Opportunities for Physios and Clinics

By building altitude training into your client’s rehabilitation, you now have a solution to minimize unnecessary de-conditioning and maximize re-coniditioning at the acute and post-injury stages. The result is happier clients, better results achieved faster and greater success for your practice.

You’ve also opened the door to populations with low-exercise tolerance who previously had few solutions for re-conditioning. Intermittent Hypoxic Breathing is game-changing for their health and quality of life. The opportunities provided from this new market will offer a huge boost to your business.

References

(1) Training High-Living Low: Changes of Aerobic Performance and Muscle Structure with Training at Simulated Altitude

(2) Endurance Training in Normobaric Hypoxia Imposes Less Physical Stress for Geriatric Rehabilitation

(3) The effects of intermittent hypoxic training on aerobic capacity and endurance performance in cyclists

(4) The Effects of Aerobic Exercise at Hypoxic Condition during 6 Weeks on Body Composition, Blood Pressure, Arterial Stiffness, and Blood Lipid Level in Obese Women

(5) Effects of systemic hypoxia on human muscular adaptations to resistance exercise training

(6) The effect of acute exercise in hypoxia on flow-mediated vasodilation

(7) Intermittent hypoxia increases exercise tolerance in elderly men with and without coronary artery disease

(8) Intermittent hypoxia training as non-pharmacologic therapy for cardiovascular diseases: Practical analysis on methods and equipment

See Results Faster – Why Altitude is Great for the Busy Professional

See Results Faster – Why Altitude is Great for the Busy Professional

With many of us back to the office – we can no longer be as generous with our lunchtime workouts. If you can squeeze a lunchtime workout in, often it’s less than an hour — which isn’t much if you factor in transit time to the gym and showering after the workout. So, how do you get the most out of your workout in the shortest amount of time and see faster results? Training at altitude presents an ideal solution to this dilemma.

It’s What’s in the Air That’s Different

Efficiency is one of the greatest assets of altitude. Training in an environment with less available oxygen triggers physiological adaptations (changes in the body) that can lead to fitness and performance benefits. And due to the unique demands altitude puts on the body, results can be seen in less time than the same workout at sea-level.

You will be working harder at altitude. For instance, your heart rate will be elevated and your cardiovascular, pulmonary and oxygen utilization systems will be working harder to meet the energy demand required with less oxygen available.

Higher Efficiency, Lower Impact

Despite being harder in some aspects, people are often surprised to learn that altitude training is much easier on the joints. You can work at a lower impact with less wear and tear on the body, and get the same if not better benefits than sea-level training in less time.

While commonly praised for its physiological benefits among professional athletes, an adaptive approach to exercising at altitude can enhance anyone’s overall fitness. Efficient in burning more calories during a given amount of time than at sea level, the time-crunched gym-goer can get a great workout completed in as little as 30 minutes — a reasonable amount of time to squeeze in to busy days.

Simulated Altitude Training

This all sounds great – but this whole time you may have been wondering how on earth you are going to get up to altitude if you live in a sea-level city, like Toronto. That’s where simulated altitude training comes in.

Altitude training is exercising in, sleeping in, or simply inhaling the oxygen-reduced air that you find at high altitudes. Simulated altitude gyms are one of the best methods for replicating high altitude conditions at sea-level. Picture a gym that is fully-equipped with treadmills, bikes, squat racks and dumbbells but encased in a high-altitude chamber.

It’s All in The Science

The latest research on simulated altitude training shows greater improvements in body composition, overall fitness and health factors for the same amount of training at sea-level. In on study, participants saw a greater increase in muscle mass with 7 weeks of altitude training compared to participants doing the equivalent sea-level training. The altitude group saw an increase in muscle mass of 1.80% compared to the sea-level group, which saw an increase of just 0.38%. Also, the altitude group saw a significant decrease in fat mass of 6.83% compared to the sea level group, which actually increased their fat mass by 1.26%.

To read the full study, click here.

It’s time to see faster results. For more info on training at Altitude, check out our memberships and follow us on Instagram and Facebook.

A Conversation With Justyn Knight – Canadian Record Holder and Olympic Track Star

A Conversation With Justyn Knight – Canadian Record Holder and Olympic Track Star

“Don’t be scared to fail, I fail all the time” – Justyn Knight

At the end of the February, we capped off The Altitude 5K Challenge. This was a challenge for runners of all levels to see who can run the fastest 5km on the treadmill when the altitude chamber is set to 9000ft elevation.

After a month that saw all sorts of runners from the community come out and participate in some friendly competition, we were left with our winners. Congratulations to our top runners – Dan Rowland and Catherine Dawe – on running the fastest times of 18:20 and 23:00 respectively in the male and female categories.

To top off our event, I was able to do an interview via Instagram live with one of the world’s fastest 5km runners, Justyn Knight. To check out the full interview – head on over to our Instagram page here or view the full clip at the bottom of this blog post. It was full of laughs, heartfelt words and some “off the track questions.”

If you are unfamiliar with Justyn, he has a fairly impressive resume on the track. Justyn competed at the Tokyo Olympics, placing 7th overall in the 5000m race. He’s also the Canadian record holder for the indoor 1500m. He holds the second fastest 5000m in North America running a time of 12 minutes and 51 seconds. He’s a two-time world finalist, two-time NCAA champion and jokingly the best self-proclaimed dual athlete in the Greater Toronto Area (he actually might be right).

In today’s blog post, I will be highlighting some of Justyn’s responses in case you don’t have time to watch the entire interview. I get you are probably busy!

 

All Things Justyn And Running

“Was running always your passion?”

To some people’s surprise, for quite some time running was NOT his passion. Justyn was all about the “balling life” and lived and breathed basketball for much of his life, including high school. He actually got into running by accident, well sort of an accident. Although he was a stand out basketball athlete, he was not doing well in gym class, and to boost his mark he had to go run 5km. Wearing only basketball shoes and shorts, he started his run and set a 5km school record. From there, he realized that he should give running a shot. But this came at a cost of choosing between running and basketball. I think he made the correct decision.

“What are some tips for someone just getting into running?”

Truly falling in love with running is something Justyn thinks is extremely important, it is not something you can do for 10 hours all day like shoot hoops, pucks or playing volleyball. It is a different type of fun, so you have to find ways to keep it fun. He also said, “Notice and internalize your wins in running, those will help you keep going no matter how small they are.”

“What are your tips for someone pursuing a career in running?”

Pursuing a career or any professional sport is extremely difficult and not glamourous like people might think it is. There is a lot of time spent in the proverbial “trenches of training”. You are on a journey that won’t be a straight line to the top. Don’t compare yourself to others because you have no idea where that person is on in their journey. We also live in a day and age of social media.

People posting their workouts can create a comparison culture. Justyn felt this when he would see people training paces that he wasn’t doing and sometimes felt discouraged. Running is very independent, so have faith in the way you are training. The greatest sprinter of all time – Usain Bolt – didn’t have very nice facilities or the best technology. So fancy isn’t always better.

 

Justyn On Tackling BIG Goals

Justyn has his own little spin when it comes to setting goals. You have probably heard of the acronym S.M.A.R.T goals – with the “R” standing for realistic. Well, when you compete at the highest level you probably have to do things a little differently and cliché acronyms might not work. That’s why Justyn talked about setting unrealistic goals for himself.

Of course, it takes some mental toughness to know you that you will likely fall consistently short of your goals. Justyn’s theory is that if he shows up to practice and trains for that unrealistic goal, falling short of his goal will still put him in a place of success. Races rarely go perfect. Even if you did everything right you can’t control what others do in the race. In his mind, if he just set realistic goals, he might not perform at the level he wants to.

 

Overcoming Failure

People will say that was an L (loss), but to me that L stands for lesson, and you can always learn from a loss” – Justyn Knight

People looking from the outside in often just see Justyn as this incredibly successful runner. You hear the stories of the winning moments far more than the losses he had endured through his running career. He had two pivotal moments in his running career. The first one was during college when he first paced 143rd and then one year later came in 4th. The second was when he turned pro, he came in 25 pounds over race weight, running his slowest time ever and placing dead last.

He kept that race bib wrote his time on it and put it up on his fridge as a reminder of the disappointment he felt, and what he was working towards everyday. Justyn has a unique way of dealing with his failures. He doesn’t simply ignore them. But rather, immerses himself in his feelings and “feels bad” for himself for around 2 days before he bounces back. Once he bounces back, he remembers not to take today for granted because it will impact tomorrow.

 

 

Celebrating Successes

Justyn would not be where he is today if it wasn’t for his talent and incredible work ethic. He shared some of his sweetest memories of racing. In 2017, he went to the world championship finals and was racing against people he watched on TV. These were people who he looked up to as role models.

Prior to the race, he looked at the final heat and felt like he had no business being in that race. Yet he still placed in the middle of the pack in 9th position – a milestone so young in his career. His all-time favourite memory was not at the Olympics. But rather winning a national championship with his team at Syracuse University. Running is a very independent sport. But when you win as a team and you can share that experience it just makes it so much more magical.

 

Fun Facts About Justyn

“Who is your childhood hero”

Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant, their work ethic was unmatched and that’s what I strive for.

“If you were to pick an animal that most closely represents your personality traits, what are you choosing?”

My little cockapoo dog, we both get up to no good.

“If you were going on a first date where is the first date taking place?”

Couldn’t give away his secret…..but he does love the cheese cake factory.

“What is your middle name”

Marcus

“What is your go to pump up song”

Rumors by Lil’ Dirk

“What is your pre race meal?”

It was chicken parmesan in college but now I don’t have to have it anymore because competing internationally you don’t know what food you will have access to.

“Do you do any cross training?”

He does weight training and plyometrics, but doesn’t really know his plan, just does what the coach tells him to do.

(As someone who trains lots of athletes, I can verify this happens more than often, even at the professional level.)

“Would you ever do a group run led by yourself for the local fans of Toronto?

Yes! As long as people are going to show up….so if you are in the Toronto area and love running be on the look out for this post.

 

 

It was an absolute pleasure to interview Justyn Knight, he is truly a one-of-a-kind person. He’s down-to-earth, humble and fiercely competitive. But he also knows not to take life so seriously and have some good laughs. He is a true leader in his community on and off the tack. Thank you Justyn!

You can follow him on Instagram @justyn.knight for more updates on his career and maybe a chance to participate in a community led run by the legend himself, stay tuned!

About the Author

About the Author

TJ McInnes

TJ McInnes is one of our Strength and Conditioning Coaches here at Altitude Athletics. He has a strong background in strength and conditioning and high performance coaching and is passionate about developing and delivering exercise programming that is tailored to his clients wants and needs. He has a particular interest in the athletic population and is constantly seeking a better understanding of the art and science of effective coaching.

A strong interest in sport and physical activity has led him to complete his Bachelor of Arts in Kinesiology and Physical Education at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo. He went on to complete his Masters of Professional Kinesiology at the University of Toronto, with a specialization in high performance. He has since completed additional certification in a wide range of areas of nutrition, sleep and recovery, functional strength, neurology, biomechanics and exercise selection.

Altitude Athletic is Toronto’s first and one of the largest altitude training facilities in the world. We’re here to help you prepare for your next big climb, event or meet your health goals. Click here to learn more about what we do at Altitude.

Contact Us

How to Run Your Fastest 5K Ever

How to Run Your Fastest 5K Ever

If you’re a beginner runner, 5 km is the perfect ‘first race” distance to prepare for. If you’re more experienced and enjoy speed, you can use the 5K distance as a platform to push faster times and try for new PBs. Regardless of your level or intention, completing a successful (and fast 5K) requires training and practice. Here are some tips on how to run your fastest 5K ever.

 

1. Have a Plan

 

 

Running a 5K fast is a challenge. And just like most other challenges in life, it helps to be prepared. So, unless your 5K is tomorrow, now is the time to make a plan. Start with answering, “what is your goal?”. Your goal should be realistic and dictated by how much time you can put into your training, how experienced you are and your current fitness level. 

Having a plan ensures you aren’t just training blindly or trying to run 5km every training session. You should have a comprehensive schedule that includes a balance of speed work, recovery, base runs and strength training. Keep on track with your plan by monitoring your heart rate and pace. 

In general, we recommend starting your training at least a month in advance. 3 months will give you plenty of time to get race ready, but it all comes back to your initial goal. Other variables like your fitness level and running experience will also play a part. Again, your plan should include a breakdown of your interval run days, base runs, strength/cross training and recovery to get the most out of your training.  

Strategies like building a tapering period into the days leading up to your race will ensure you aren’t weighed down by training and have given your body the chance to recover and re-energize. If you keep on training hard right up until the day of your race, it might actually hinder your performance!

If this is all new to you and you don’t know how to plan? Reach out to one of our coaches at Altitude! You can book a coach consult to come into the facility and talk about your goals and training needs here: SCHEDULE COACH CONSULT

 

2. Incorporate Intervals 

 

5Ks are fast-paced and usually over before you even know it. Be prepared to keep up with the pace and accelerate in key moments. In a marathon, you may get away with purely aerobic training. But in a 5K, you’ll want to work on what’s called your anaerobic energy system. Interval training (alternating between hard and easy efforts) will help increase your aerobic and anaerobic energy system. Need to pass someone quickly? Or finish pick your speed for the last leg of the race? You may need to tap in to your anaerobic energy system for the extra burst to make sure you reach your goal.   

 

3. Start (or Continue) Strength Training 

 

As runners, strength training can be a bit boring and feel unnecessary. But it’s actually a fundamental part of boosting speed and efficiency and protecting us from injury. Although the bulk of your training will be running, it would be a mistake to neglect strength.  

Strength training can improve the elastic capabilities of your muscles and tendons. While you run, your muscles are contracting and using energy. It’s hard work! What if there was something that could save you from burning through precious energy in a race? Well, by strength training and working on plyometrics, you can tap into that elastic energy and reduce the load on your muscles. We can’t think of anyone who wouldn’t want to take advantage of an energy save like that!

Strength training can also keep tissue strong and resilient to reduce chance of acute and chronic injury. Remember, running is an impact sport, and strength training can save you from the aches and pains you can suffer down the road. This will allow you to do what you love more often.  

 

 

 4. Know Your Target Pace

 

 

Like we mentioned earlier, having a goal is key to running a fast 5km. So you will need to set a base line at the beginning of your training so you know a pace you can sustain over the 5km.

If you are just starting to get into running, you may have no idea. Just going out on a run and experimenting with speeds can be an easy way to pinpoint your starting pace. Additionally, there are many free pace calculators on the internet to help you get a feel for pacing. Wearable tech – like a smart watch – can also be used to help track your pace in real time.

Remember, shaving off significant time on your pace doesn’t happen overnight, stick to the training plan and make adjustments. That being said this leads us into our next tip.  

 

 

5. Be Consistent 

 

We have emphasized the importance of having a plan a few times in this post, only because it is so important. But we all know that sometimes things get in the way and plans go out the window. And that’s okay! If you find yourself in a situation where you are falling off track, remember that doing something is better than nothing, even if it’s not exactly what you planned.  

As long as you are feeling good and pain-free, keep consistent with movement so that when your race day rolls around you aren’t coming into it from days (or even weeks) on the couch or at the desk. It can be helpful to create a Plan B workout for if you can’t make a run on a certain day – I.e., a quick 10-minute HIIT workout, a 30-minute walk during a conference call or some stretching at night to keep your body loose and mobile.  

It also helps to find a running partner to train with (ideally on the same plan!) that can help keep you accountable and just makes training more fun to engage with others.  

 

 

6. Work on Your Breath

 

 

You probably never thought you could be bad at something you do more than 20,000 times a day, but there are better ways to breathe and worse ways to breathe. And breathing can help you run a fast 5K. 

Developing good breathing patterns will help you get sufficient O2 to your limbs to help your engine keep gunning. The diaphragm is a massive muscle and we need it to work well to breathe well, therefore training it is important. Secondly, nose breathing can help with relaxing our blood vessels to increase blood flow an O2 delivery systemically.

What is a good breathing pattern and how can you practice good breathing? Here’s an example: Lay on your back, put your feet flat on the ground (hook lying position). Next, put one hand on your chest the other on your stomach. Take a deep breath in through your nose, you should feel your stomach rise and then your chest. Practice breathing in through your nose for 5 seconds and slowly exhaling out for 5 seconds. The bonus of doing this is decreasing your stress levels too, so give it a try.

 

7. Recover Well

 

 

It isn’t all about the training! Your ability to run your fastest 5K is influenced by your ability to recover well throughout training. Recovery is so important, because this is when your body fulfills the adaptations you work so hard to get from training, like stimulating more robust energy systems and stronger tissue.  

So how can you recovery well? It isn’t sexy like all the recovery modalities make it out to look like. Really you just need to focus on the basics – good nutrition, hydration and the most important, sleep. Once you’ve gotten that covered and do those few things then you can get into extra modalities like expensive massage guns, ice baths and red-light therapy.  

So there you have it, that’s how you can run your fastest 5K ever. Even just taking a few of these tips will set you on the right back towards running your fastest 5K ever. And remember, at the end of the day the most important thing is that you have fun and enjoy each step along the 5000 m course.

We’re here to help you optimize your prep for any race distance. Learn more about training options at Altitude here.

 

About the Author

About the Author

TJ McInnes

TJ McInnes is one of our Strength and Conditioning Coaches here at Altitude Athletics. He has a strong background in strength and conditioning and high performance coaching and is passionate about developing and delivering exercise programming that is tailored to his clients wants and needs. He has a particular interest in the athletic population and is constantly seeking a better understanding of the art and science of effective coaching.

A strong interest in sport and physical activity has led him to complete his Bachelor of Arts in Kinesiology and Physical Education at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo. He went on to complete his Masters of Professional Kinesiology at the University of Toronto, with a specialization in high performance. He has since completed additional certification in a wide range of areas of nutrition, sleep and recovery, functional strength, neurology, biomechanics and exercise selection.

Altitude Training for Cardiac Rehab and Treatment

Altitude Training for Cardiac Rehab and Treatment

WHY USE ALTITUDE TRAINING FOR CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE?

 

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of death in men and women worldwide (1). Additionally, coronary artery disease and hypertension are two of the most prevalent forms of CVD. Physical inactivity is one of the main risk factors of CVD. Therefore, it is important that we improve the methods used to combat this disease. 

Hypoxic exposures, and exercise (IHT) in a simulated altitude environment (hypoxic training) can provide greater improvements in CVD symptoms and the quality of life of CVD patients. (2)

Indeed, the benefits of hypoxic exposure and exercise have been shown to result in greater improvements than sea-level exercise and/or medication alone (3,4). Exercise in hypoxia can also be done with lower overall workloads and reduced physical effort for the same or greater aerobic training effect (1,5,6). Even for patients with advanced conditions or comorbidities that limit their ability to perform exercise, passive hypoxic exposure can improve many factors of CVD and increase exercise tolerance and capacity. For example, in older people with and without CVD, passive exposure improved resting heart rate, blood pressure, stress on the cardiac muscle (reduced rate pressure product), arterial oxygen content and peak workload compared to control groups (3). 

 

Altitude Training For Cardiovascular Disease – Evidence-Based Benefits 

 

Accumulated research over the past 50 years has demonstrated hypoxic exposure and exercise is safe, and effective for patients with varying levels of CVD (1,3,4) . Also, the research has shown the mechanisms underpinning why hypoxic exposure is more effective for CVD patients.

IHT increases mitochondrial metabolism and density (1,5), stimulates endothelial Nitric Oxide production enhancing vasodilation and increases capillary density. Indeed, these mechanisms result in numerous beneficial performance and CVD outcomes.

Clinically relevant improvements for hypertensive, CVD, and chronic heart failure patients that are greater than what would be seen with sea-level exercise or traditional interventions alone. These include:

  • Lower Resting Blood Pressure (1,3,4)
  • Lower Resting & Active HR (1,3,4)
  • Reduced Rate Pressure Product (Cardiac Stress) (3)
  • Fewer Hypertensive Episodes (4)
  • Increased Aerobic Capacity (2,3,5)
  • Increased Exercise Capacity & Tolerance (2,3)
  • Improved Quality of Life (2,4)

Protocols can be either passive or active and built for varying levels of exercise tolerance. For example, passive protocols involving intermittent hypoxic breathing (IHB)* are ideal for patients suffering from CVD or other co-morbidities who cannot tolerate exercise. Active protocols are designed to allow patients to ease into exercise without compromising performance benefit. 

*IHB involves breathing very low oxygen air from a stationary position (seated) in a series of intervals interspersed with sea-level breathing.

 

Opportunities for Physicians and Clinics

 

  1. Incorporate altitude training sessions during cardiac rehab
    • Minimize deconditioning
    • Reduce inflammation
    • Regain fitness quicker
    • Slowly increase training intensity without compromising fitness
  2. Offer solutions for individuals with advanced conditions or comorbidities that limit their ability to perform exercise
    • Prevent further decline in aerobic fitness 
    • Increase aerobic capacity, building toward increasing physical activity 
    • Increase exercise tolerance building toward future exercise programs 

 

Speak with one of our coaches about training options for cardiovascular disease to improve health outcomes and quality of life.

Altitude Athletic is Toronto’s first and one of the largest altitude training facilities in the world. We’re here to help you prepare for your next big climb, event or meet your health goals. Click here to learn more about what we do at Altitude.

Contact Us

References

 

(1) Safety and Efficacy of Intermittent Hypoxia Conditioning as a New Rehabilitation/Secondary Prevention Strategy for Patients with Cardiovascular Diseases: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis

(2) Improved Exercise Performance and Skeletal Muscle Strength After Simulated Altitude Exposure: A Novel Approach for Patients With Chronic Heart Failure

(3) Intermittent hypoxia increases exercise tolerance in elderly men with and without coronary artery disease

(4) Intermittent hypoxia training as non-pharmacologic therapy for cardiovascular diseases: Practical analysis on methods and equipment

(5) Training High- Living Low: Changes of Aerobic Performance and Muscle Structure with Training at Simulated Altitude

(6) Endurance Training in Normobaric Hypoxia Imposes Less Physical Stress for Geriatric Rehabilitation

(7) The effect of acute exercise in hypoxia on flow-mediated vasodilation

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