High Altitude and Weight Loss

Here in the Centennial state, Coloradans relish at an opportunity to boast about living at high altitude. After all, the average elevation in Colorado is 6,800 feet above sea level. In medicine, altitude starts to have a noticeable effect on humans at around 4,900 feet above sea level. The higher altitude means that there is less atmospheric pressure, which means oxygen is more dispersed than it would be at sea-level. As a result, you could say that oxygen is at a premium here compared to the rest of the country.  For people that visit the state from sea-level, they may experience temporary altitude sickness upon arrival. Symptoms typically include: Headache, loss of appetite, nausea, weakness, mild insomnia, and dehydration. These are all symptoms brought on by your body’s attempt to acclimate to the sudden decrease in oxygen at altitude. This is especially true when you travel above 8,000 feet, where the risks could be greater. Be sure to drink plenty of water and rest to allow your body to sufficiently acclimate.

Once acclimated, then the real fun at altitude can begin. People in Colorado can sometimes feel superhuman after living here. Acclimating to the lack of oxygen means that when they travel to lower elevations, their body has become more efficient with less oxygen, allowing them to have more stamina at sea level. In the realm of athletics, it has become common advice to practice altitude training, in which an athlete spends several weeks at high altitude while training for an event at sea level. This would give them a distinct advantage over their opponents during endurance activities such as running, biking, or swimming. Moreover, for people just trying to lose those extra pounds through cardiovascular activity, then this practice would also be beneficial. Using a principle called, “live high, train low”, you allow your body to acclimate at altitude, and then perform your cardiovascular activity at a lower elevation. By moving for longer, you will inevitably lose more calories.

The most intriguing theory being discussed in the medical community however, is that simply living at high altitude can promote weight loss. The effects of high altitude on the body can be taxing, and can fascinating affects your hormones relating to hunger. You just want to eat less at altitude. And if you get used to eating less, then you’re more likely to take that habit with you wherever you go. Granted, the effects of high altitude on one’s weight are still up for debate. These arguments aren’t accepted as scientific fact just yet, but there have been several studies attempting to find and explain a link.

With that said, it should be established that your weight has more to do with your diet and activity level than any environmental factor. If you want to maintain a healthy frame, you will need to eat a balanced diet, watch your calorie intake, and exercise at least one hour every day. Not only will you be fit, but you will have a healthy heart. Denver-based heart centers can help map out an effective diet and exercise regiment that will get you slim before beach season. And who knows, maybe within Colorado’s towering mountains, you’ll find a way to get to that point in less time than anybody could have predicted.

How To Use This Information

 Losing weight is often viewed as a laborious journey, but the results always are well-received. While scientists are discovering the phenomenal effects of high altitude on that journey, it is still no substitute for a well-balanced diet and regular exercise. Get yourself to a Denver heart center, like South Denver cardiology, to map out a long-term program for a healthier heart and body.