ADAPTATIONS OF AL­TI­TUDE

When oxy­gen is scant the body makes mod­i­fi­ca­tions to cope

Trail Running (UK) - - The Science Behind... -

MORE RED BLOOD CELLS

At higher al­ti­tudes, there are fewer oxy­gen mol­e­cules in each breath you take. There­fore, in or­der to com­pen­sate, the body has to pro­duce more red blood cells to cir­cu­late the oxy­gen around the body.

MORE HAEMOGLOBIN

This is the pro­tein in the red blood cells that com­bines with the oxy­gen to trans­port is around the body. The more haemoglobin, the higher the sat­u­ra­tion of oxy­gen.

GREATER NUM­BER OF MITOCHONDRIA

Mitochondria con­verts oxy­gen to en­ergy, so when you are starved of oxy­gen-rich air, your body makes up for it by pro­duc­ing more th­ese.

MORE EF­FEC­TIVE USE OF FAT

Stud­ies have shown ath­letes re­turn­ing to sea level from al­ti­tude de­pend less on carbs and more on fat as an en­ergy source.

BIG­GER LUNG CA­PAC­ITY (HIGHER ALVEOLI VOL­UME)

You breathe more of­ten and more deeply boost­ing lung ca­pac­ity.

LARGER HEART SIZE (RIGHT VENTRICLE WALL THICKENS)

Heart rate is raised at high al­ti­tude, so when you re­turn to sea level this or­gan is more ef­fec­tive for a short pe­riod of time.

MORE MYOGLOBIN IN THE MUS­CLES

The vol­ume of this oxy­gen­bind­ing pro­tein is 50% higher at al­ti­tude – an­other plus for your fit­ness.

LESS LACTATE IN BLOOD

Train­ing at high al­ti­tude in­creases your tol­er­ance of lac­tic acid, which is the en­emy of sprint­ers and mid­dle-dis­tance run­ners.

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