International Journal of Exercise Science 11(6): 187-197, 2018. Acclimatization to altitude has been shown to improve elements of performance. Use of simulated altitude is popular among athletes across the sports spectrum. This work was on a handheld, re-breathing device touted to enhance performance. Seven recreationally-trained athletes used the device for 18 hours over the course of the 37-day intervention trial. The elevations simulated were progressively increased from 1,524m to 6,096m. To ascertain potential efficacy, four performance trials were included (familiarization, baseline, and 2 follow-ups). Hematological (hematocrit, hemoglobin, and lactate), physiological (respiratory exchange ratio, heart rate, and oxygen consumption), and perceptual (Borg’s RPE) variables were monitored at rest, during two steady state running economy stages, and at maximal effort during each visit. The device is clearly capable of creating arterial hypoxemic conditions equating to high altitude. This fact is exemplified by average pulse oximetry values of approximately 78.5% in the final 6-day block of simulation. At the same time, there were no changes observed in any hematological (p>0.05), physiological (p>0.05), or perceptual (p>0.05) variable at either follow-up performance trial. Relative VO2 data was analyzed with a 15-breath moving average sampling frequency in accordance with our recent findings (Scheadler et al.) reported in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. Effect sizes are reported within, but most were trivial (d=0.0-0.19). Overall, findings align with speculation that a more robust altitude stimulus than can be offered by short-term arterial hypoxemia is required for changes to be evidenced. The device has shown some promise in other work, but our data is not supportive.
Garver, Matthew J.; Scheadler, Cory M.; Smith, Logan M.; Taylor, Sarah J.; and Harbach, Chase M.
"Simulated Altitude via Re-Breathing Creates Arterial Hypoxemia but Fails to Improve Elements of Running Performance,"
International Journal of Exercise Science: Vol. 11
6, Pages 187 - 197.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.wku.edu/ijes/vol11/iss6/2