Int J Sports Med 2006; 27(8): 629-635
DOI: 10.1055/s-2005-872823
Training & Testing

© Georg Thieme Verlag KG Stuttgart · New York

Effects of Short-Term Acclimatization to Altitude (3200 m) on Aerobic and Anaerobic Exercise Performance

M. Burtscher1 , M. Faulhaber1 , M. Flatz1 , R. Likar1 , W. Nachbauer1
  • 1Department of Sport Science, Medical Section, University of Innsbruck, Austria
Further Information

Publication History

Accepted after revision: July 15, 2005

Publication Date:
24 November 2005 (online)


Aerobic exercise performance decreases upon ascent to altitude whereas anaerobic performance remains unchanged. Although the effects of 1 - 3 wk of altitude acclimatization on both aerobic and anaerobic exercise performance have been well studied, the effects of short-term altitude acclimatization (i.e., 45 h) on these parameters have not been well defined. Therefore, both aerobic and anaerobic exercise performance was evaluated in five healthy men (51.4 ± 7.7 years, 175 ± 4.2 cm, and 73.8 ± 6.1 kg) at low altitude (LA, 600 m), upon acute exposure (∼ 1 - 3 h) to 3200 m (HA1) and on the third day of altitude exposure (HA3, 3200 m). Subjects performed three consecutive exercise tests, separated by ∼ 1 - 3 h of rest, of various durations (i.e., 30 s, 5 min, and 50 min) on a cycle ergometer in each environmental condition. Anaerobic cycling performance (i. e., 30 s) was the same at LA, HA1, and HA3. Aerobic cycling performance (i. e., 5 min and 50 min) was reduced by 12.0 and 11.3 %, respectively, upon acute exposure to altitude. There was no change in the 5-min cycling performance but the 50-min cycling performance improved by 5.7 % from HA1 to HA3 which implies a 50 % recovery of the initial loss. These findings are important for individuals going to high altitude for work, for athletic competition, or recreation.


MD, PhD Martin Burtscher

Department of Sport Science
Medical Section, University of Innsbruck

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6020 Innsbruck


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