Expert Advice for Smart Workouts

Published: August 12, 2019

Summer travel can take you to elevations well above sea level, and it may be challenging for those unused to high altitudes to acclimate to the reduced oxygen in the atmosphere. It can also complicate your exercise efforts. Dr. Lineberry of Mercy Medical Group offers guidance on working out in high places. inated.

How can high elevations impact your health?

High-altitude disorder—or altitude sickness—is a stressor for the entire body; symptoms include nausea, poor sleep, a change in mental state such as confusion or change in gait. Less oxygen in the air may increase shortness of breath, wheezing and coughing. If you start having those symptoms, move to a lower altitude as quickly as possible.


How can people prepare ahead of time for a high-altitude trip?

The most important thing you can do is educate yourself about altitude sickness and know the symptoms to watch out for. It’s always wise to see your physician to get your vitals checked and inform him or her that you will be traveling to a high-altitude area. If you can, stay in a lower elevation (below 7,000 feet) for a day to get your body to acclimate

What should people keep in mind when exercising at high elevations?

You need to rest for the first day after you arrive and avoid exertion. Pay attention to your breathing patterns. If you don’t experience any symptoms, gradually intensify your activity level. Staying hydrated is the No. 1 priority, so drink plenty of water—you need to increase your normal intake at higher altitudes—and avoid alcohol. Apply sunscreen, and wear sunglasses and protective clothing because the sun is much stronger at higher elevations. Make sure you have a companion who can monitor you—and help you safely descend to lower elevations if you exhibit symptoms of altitude sickness.

WHA is closely monitoring the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). Learn more about COVID-19.