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By studying this chapter, you should be able to do the following:

  1. Describe the changes in atmospheric pressure, air temperature, and air density with increasing altitude.

  2. Describe how altitude affects sprint performances and explain why that is the case.

  3. Explain why distance running performance decreases at altitude.

  4. Draw a graph to show the effect of altitude on VO2 max and list the reasons for this response.

  5. Graphically describe the effect of altitude on the heart rate and ventilation responses to submaximal work, and explain why these changes are appropriate.

  6. Describe the process of adaptation to altitude and the degree to which this adaptation can be complete.

  7. Explain why such variability exists among athletes in the decrease in VO2 max upon exposure to altitude, the degree of improvement in VO2 max at altitude, and the gains made upon return to sea level.

  8. Describe the potential problems associated with training at high altitude and how one might deal with them.

  9. Explain the circumstances that caused physiologists to reevaluate their conclusions that humans could not climb Mount Everest without oxygen.

  10. Explain the role that hyperventilation plays in helping to maintain a high oxygen-hemoglobin saturation at extreme altitudes.

  11. List and describe the factors influencing the risk of heat injury.

  12. Provide suggestions for the fitness participant to follow to minimize the likelihood of heat injury.

  13. Describe in general terms the guidelines suggested for running road races in the heat.

  14. Describe the three elements in the heat stress index, and explain why one is more important than the other two.

  15. List the factors influencing hypothermia.

  16. Explain what the wind chill index is relative to heat loss.

  17. Explain why exposure to cold water is more dangerous than exposure to air of the same temperature.

  18. Describe what the “clo” unit is and how recommendations for insulation change when one does exercise.

  19. Describe the role of subcutaneous fat and heat production in the development of hypothermia.

  20. List the steps to follow to deal with hypothermia.

  21. Explain how carbon monoxide can influence performance, and list the steps that should be taken to reduce the impact of pollution on performance.



  • Atmospheric Pressure

  • Short-Term Anaerobic Performance

  • Long-Term Aerobic Performance

  • Maximal Aerobic Power and Altitude

  • Acclimatization to High Altitude

  • Training for Competition at Altitude

  • The Quest for Everest


  • Hyperthermia

Implications for Fitness

Implications for Performance


  • Environmental Factors

  • Insulating Factors

  • Heat Production

  • Descriptive Characteristics

  • Dealing with Hypothermia

Air Pollution

  • Particulate Matter

  • Ozone

  • Sulfur Dioxide

  • Carbon Monoxide

Key Terms

Air Quality Index (AQI)

atmospheric pressure


exercise-induced muscle cramps

exertional heat stroke

heat exhaustion

heat syncope





hypoxia inducible factor-1 (HIF-1)



wind chill index

By now it should be clear that performance is dependent on more than simply having a high VO2 max. In Chap. 22, we saw the role of diet and body ...

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