News You Can Use

Healthy Thinking,

Heart Healthy Exercise at High Altitude: What You Need to Know

heart healthy exercise at high altitude

Not only is Colorado one of the most active and heart-healthy states in the country, but most of the state is also at high elevation. Denver and the other Front Range cities are over 5,000 feet, while many of the mountain towns are over 8,000 feet. Therefore, staying active in Colorado typically involves exercising at high altitude. While this provides a variety of performance benefits for competitive athletes, it also requires individuals with a history of heart issues to take certain precautions.

How Does Exercising at High Altitude Impact Your Body?

Exercising at high altitude forces your body to work harder during periods of peak exertion. This occurs because the oxygen content in the air is lower at high altitudes, and this “thinner” air reduces the amount of oxygen in your blood. As a result, your bloodstream isn’t able to deliver the proper amount of oxygen to your muscles for maximum performance while exercising. This results in:

In addition, exercising at high altitude will cause an increase in your heart rate in order to increase the blood circulation to your muscles. In other words, your heart must work harder to pump more blood to your muscles to compensate for the reduced levels of oxygen your muscles are receiving. This process can place additional stress on your heart, which may be problematic for individuals who either have or are predisposed to heart disease.

Your Body Adjusts Over Time

The good news is that your body begins to adjust to the lower oxygen content in the air and will eventually begin producing additional red blood cells as you acclimate to the higher altitude. The length of time it takes for your body to adjust depends on the altitude – the higher the elevation, the longer the acclimation period. It can take approximately two weeks for your body to acclimate to exercising at 6,500 feet and about a month when exercising at 8,000 feet.

For people who have just moved to Colorado, precautions should be taken when exercising during the first month you live here. This is especially important if you’re predisposed to heart disease. However, once your body adjusts, you should be able to resume your regular exercise regimen without concern.

Exercise Tips for People Visiting Colorado

exercising at high altitudeIf you’re planning on skiing, hiking or engaging in other strenuous activities while visiting Colorado, the following tips will help you reduce the risk of an adverse reaction to high altitude exercise:

South Denver Cardiology Associates Can Help You Exercise Safely at High Altitude

If you’re predisposed to heart disease or have a heart condition, South Denver Cardiology Associates can help you exercise safely at high altitude. Our team of cardiologists can perform comprehensive diagnostic testing to evaluate the condition of your heart and advise you as to what types of exercise you can perform safely.

In addition, the exercise specialists at our medical fitness gym can help you develop an individualized exercise program that will help you improve your cardiovascular health.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment. South Denver Cardiology Associates serves patients in the South Denver area and Littleton.

South Denver Cardiology
Latest posts by South Denver Cardiology (see all)

Sign Up

As with any health concerns, your specific treatment program should be discussed thoroughly with your primary care physician as well as any specialists who may need to be consulted – like a cardiologist.

Sign Up