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Article Title

The Relationship between Aerobic Fitness, BMI, and Measures of Perception while at Very High Altitudes

Abstract

Gray, S., Drozdowsky, D., Schoenenberger, M., Wisniewski, K., Fitzgerald, P. Saint Francis University, Loretto, PA

Persons who live at low altitudes are referred to as ‘low-landers’ in the exercise literature. One does not have to be a mountaineer nor be physically fit to travel to extreme altitudes. Altitude is an environmental factor that directly challenges work performance due to exposure to hypoxic conditions. Low-lander environmental engineering students and faculty traveled to Bolivia to study acid mine drainage and were accompanied by exercise physiology students and faculty. The team landed in La Paz, Bolivia which has the highest international airport in the world at13,325 feet above sea level. The research team spent 15 days at very high altitudes (3,658 m – 5,487 m). Purpose: To provide exercise physiology students and faculty studying at altitude an opportunity to complete a pilot study that would describe how participants would rate affective responses using the Feeling Scale (FS) at rest (FSrest) and after a one minute sit-to-stand functional exercise test (FSfex), and to determine if any relationship existed between BMI, and aerobic fitness measured prior to travel and FSrest and FSfex measured at altitude. Methods: University IRB approval was obtained prior to data collection. 13 volunteer participants included 9 students (3 female, 6 male) aged 19.77 ±1.39 yrs., BMI 25.05 ± 4.67 kg•m-2 and 4 professors (2 female, and 2 male), aged 46.50 ±11.47 yrs., BMI 28.25 ± 5.91 kg•m-2. Each completed a VO2max test (Bruce treadmill protocol) with electrocardiogram (ECG) the week prior to altitude exposure. Resting and exercise affective valance was assessed using the FS. In Bolivia, FSrest and FSfex were collected at regular intervals.VO2max testing was not repeated in Bolivia. Results: A statistically significant moderate correlation was found between FSfex and age, (r = -0.673, p = 0.012). A moderate correlation approaching significance was found between FSfex and BMI, (r = -0.538, p = 0.058). A high, significant correlation existed between VO2max and sit to stand scores (r = 0.825, p = 0.001). Conclusion: These pilot data show that there was a decline in affective valence during muscular exercise at altitude which may be related to age.

Research partially funded by a SFU Faculty Development Grant

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