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It is an interesting training procedure that is being adopted by Olympic and professional athletes worldwide. Many professional athletes, today, include a section of high altitude…
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High Altitude Training High altitude training is a method that has gone through extensive research over the past years. It is an interesting trainingprocedure that is being adopted by Olympic and professional athletes worldwide. Many professional athletes, today, include a section of high altitude training in their routines. They train at higher altitudes to prepare for lower altitude oxygen level.
The idea behind this form of training is that if an athlete can get used to the tough environment that is present at higher altitudes, he or she would have experience a higher level of endurance when traveling to lower altitudes. The reason is that at higher altitudes, there is lesser amount of oxygen for the body and muscles. Therefore, the excess oxygen will help avoid the early production of lactic acid and keep heart rate lower even when the athlete is working harder at sea level. (Smith, 2005)
The trick to high altitude training is a process known as acclimatization. This means that athletes must give time to their bodies to get used to the increase in altitude, and decrease in oxygen levels in the atmosphere. For instance, when an athlete reaches, say 5000 feet, he must spend some days there so that the body acclimatizes to the conditions present there before moving on to higher altitudes. After acclimatization to higher altitudes, when the athlete returns back to sea level, his endurance level and performance is better.
High Altitude Training and Respiration
As the oxygen levels at higher altitudes decrease, there are a number of changes that the body undergoes in the process of acclimatization. Firstly, the depth of respiration increases. The pulmonary arteries go through an increase in pressure, forcing blood into those parts of the lung which are not utilized under normal circumstances. (Curtis, 1999)
Along with increasing the production of red blood cells to carry oxygen, the body also steps up the production of a specific enzyme that eases the discharge of oxygen from hemoglobin to the body tissue. (Curtis, 1999)
Exercise and Carbon Dioxide Levels
As we know, the air in the atmosphere consists of 78% nitrogen, 21% oxygen and 1% water vapor, carbon dioxide and other gases. This is the proportion of gases you inhale during normal breathing. However, 6% of oxygen is breathed out together with carbon dioxide and other waste products. (Science Fair 2003: Does Exercise Affect the Amount of Carbon Dioxide Exhaled, 2003)
During exercise, the body needs more energy which is provided to it through the chemical reaction of oxygen and glucose. This, in turn, means that during exercise, the body needs more oxygen. This extra demand in oxygen is provided through deeper and faster breathing.
However, it is important to note that the respiration of the body is controlled by carbon dioxide and not oxygen. During exercise, the production of carbon dioxide in the body is increased. A part of the brain, known as medulla, is responsible for measuring the level of carbon dioxide in the blood. When the medulla detects the increase in the carbon dioxide levels, it responds to it by increasing the respiration rate. (Science Fair 2003: Does Exercise Affect the Amount of Carbon Dioxide Exhaled, 2003)
Conclusion
As discussed, high altitude training is a great form of training for professional athletes who want excellent performance and endurance results in competitions. Although, critics argue that the advantages of high altitude training do not last for a long time after the athlete returns to sea level, it is still practiced by the top level athletes to train for competitions, a month or two before the big event.
References
Curtis, R. (1999, July 7). Outdoor Action Guide to High Altitude: Acclimatization and Illnesses. Retrieved December 31, 2009, from http://www.princeton.edu/~oa/safety/altitude.html
Science Fair 2003: Does Exercise Affect the Amount of Carbon Dioxide Exhaled. (2003). Retrieved December 31, 2009, from http://www.saskschools.ca/~greenall/scienceprojects/co2_and_exercise.htm
Smith, S. (2005). High Altitude Training . Retrieved December 31, 2009, from Military.com: http://www.military.com/NewContent/0,13190,Smith_020205,00.html Read More
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