That morning jog or bike ride through the mountains may affect your body more than you think, according to a session presented at the American College of Sports Medicine’s 60th Annual Meeting in Indianapolis. Jerome A. Dempsey, Ph.D., FACSM, a respiratory physiologist from the University of Wisconsin, will discuss a healthy human’s capability to adapt to hypoxemia – a condition defined by inadequate transport of oxygen to tissues.
“Whether you are a sea-level dweller who is traveling to higher altitude, or live at a high altitude, or have sleep apnea with intermittent hypoxemia, or are an athlete who voluntarily exposes him or herself to low-oxygen environments, hypoxemia can affect athletic performance as well as general quality of life,” said Dempsey.
He noted that, given the growing number of persons choosing to reside at altitudes higher than 2500 meters (approximately 8,000 feet above sea level), understanding the pros and cons of hypoxic exposure and intermittent hypoxemia is increasingly important.
“For every adaptation to hypoxemia there is a biologic cost, and sometimes the cost outweighs the adaptation,” said Dempsey. “Intermittent hypoxemia—especially the type experienced during sleep apnea— is especially problematic to humans.”