Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
ISSN: 1303 - 2968   
Ios-APP Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
Androit-APP Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
©Journal of Sports Science and Medicine (2015) 14, 413 - 417

Research article
Altitude Exposure at 1800 m Increases Haemoglobin Mass in Distance Runners
Laura A. Garvican-Lewis1,2, , Iona Halliday2,3, Chris R. Abbiss3, Philo U. Saunders2, Christopher J. Gore2,4
Author Information
1 Research Institute for Sport and Exercise, University of Canberra, Canberra, Australia
2 Department of Physiology, Australian Institute of Sport, Canberra, Australia
3 Centre for Exercise and Sports Science Research, School of Exercise and Health Science, Edith Cowan University, Joondalup, Western Australia
4 Exercise Physiology Laboratory, Flinders University, South Australia

Laura A. Garvican-Lewis
‚úČ Research Institute for Sport and Exercise, University of Canberra, Bruce, Canberra, 2601, Australia
Publish Date
Received: 23-01-2015
Accepted: 13-03-2015
Published (online): 01-06-2015
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The influence of low natural altitudes (< 2000 m) on erythropoietic adaptation is currently unclear, with current recommendations indicating that such low altitudes may be insufficient to stimulate significant increases in haemoglobin mass (Hbmass). As such, the purpose of this study was to determine the influence of 3 weeks of live high, train high exposure (LHTH) at low natural altitude (i.e. 1800 m) on Hbmass, red blood cell count and iron profile. A total of 16 elite or well-trained runners were assigned into either a LHTH (n = 8) or CONTROL (n = 8) group. Venous blood samples were drawn prior to, at 2 weeks and at 3 weeks following exposure. Hbmass was measured in duplicate prior to exposure and at 2 weeks and at 3 weeks following exposure via carbon monoxide rebreathing. The percentage change in Hbmass from baseline was significantly greater in LHTH, when compared with the CONTROL group at 2 (3.1% vs 0.4%; p = 0.01;) and 3 weeks (3.0% vs -1.1%; p < 0.02, respectively) following exposure. Haematocrit was greater in LHTH than CONTROL at 2 (p = 0.01) and 3 weeks (p = 0.04) following exposure. No significant interaction effect was observed for haemoglobin concentration (p = 0.06), serum ferritin (p = 0.43), transferrin (p = 0.52) or reticulocyte percentage (p = 0.16). The results of this study indicate that three week of natural classic (i.e. LHTH) low altitude exposure (1800 m) results in a significant increase in Hbmass of elite distance runners, which is likely due to the continuous exposure to hypoxia.

Key words: LHTH, erythropoiesis, hypoxia, hypoxic dose

           Key Points
  • Two and three weeks of LHTH altitude exposure (1800 m) results in a significant increase in Hbmass
  • LHTH altitude exposure increased Hbmass by 3.1% after 2 weeks, and 3.0% after 3 weeks of exposure
  • LHTH altitude exposure may be a practical method to increase Hbmass in well-trained athletes.
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