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Altitude and heat training in GENESIS

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What is altitude training and how does it work?

At higher altitudes, there is less oxygen in the air for us to breathe (hypoxia). This places the body under extra pressure, as less fuel is available to your hard working muscles. The good news is that our bodies adapt by becoming more efficient in several ways, including increasing the amount of cells that carry oxygen in the blood (red blood cells) and improving how muscles use that oxygen. These efficiencies stick around when breathing normal air and ultimately improve sporting performance when you need it. 

What is heat training and how does it work?

Researchers have been looking at the effects of heat on athletic performance for decades, and their results have been consistently surprising. Studies have found that, in addition to an increased rate of perspiration, training in the heat can increase an athlete’s blood plasma volume (which leads to better cardiovascular fitness), reduce overall core temperature, reduce blood lactate, increase skeletal muscle force, and, counterintuitively, make a person train better in cold temperatures.

How can we do altitude training without a big mountain?

Our environmental simulation suite has been set up to research the effect of altitude and extreme conditions on human physiology. The suite is a large sealed room where we can change the concentration of oxygen in the air, so unlike other altitude centres you will not have to wear a mask or be connected up to a machine.With high performance Watt Bikes and a commercial grade treadmill we are well set up to push your limits, alternatively you are welcome to bring in your own wind trainer. We have a selection of research-based training programmes available to help you plan your exercise session. And we have a team of research physiologists on hand to discuss how you can get the best out of altitude training.

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Is altitude training just for the elites?

No! A lot of elite athletes both here and overseas are taking advantage of the benefits of altitude training. However, athletes at any level will benefit from improved efficiency of breathing and because altitude training places more aerobic demands on the body, you will get fitter for the same amount of time training.

Adapting to altitude is also important for anyone looking to spend time or compete at high altitudes such as mountain climbers or expeditions to overseas trekking locations.

Is it safe?

We are a research facility and therefore take your safety very seriously. We will check you are safe to exercise and all sessions are fully monitored by trained technicians. We also have fully stocked resuscitation equipment including an AED on site.

Contact Us

Email: ctr@otago.ac.nz if you have any questions or are interested in finding out more about using the chamber. 

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