, Research Paper
What effect does altitude have on metabolism?Many studies have been conducted on the effect the altitude has on a persons metabolism, especially before, during and after the time of the 1968 Olympics, held in Mexico City situated at an altitude of 7710ft or 2350 m.At the time that the Olympics were chosen to be held in Mexico City there was a lot of criticism from sporting groups. This was because they believed that there would be an unfair advantage to some athletes because of the altitude that Mexico City is situated. It was believed that athletes who had been living and training at higher altitudes would have more ability to compete at such a high altitude.Many records were made at these Olympics, however most of them were in explosive” events such as sprinting, jumping and throwing. This result was predicted before the games because of the resistance of the air. It was also predicted that endurance events would be slower. This prediction was right. The times for longer events were much slower than in previous competitions and were mostly won by people who had either lived or trained in higher altitudes. The winners of these Medals were used to being beaten at sea level by the runners who were now struggling to even finish the race at the high altitude. This is what lead to the games being named The Unfair Games .The first time that people recognized that altitude did actually affect an athlete’s ability was at the 1955 Pan American Games which were also held in Mexico City. Because Mexico City s air pressure is 20 percent thinner than at sea level the resistance is less. This helps sprints but disadvantages athletes running in longer events because they needed to breathe in more air to compare to what they were used to.
Some people think that the higher you go, the less oxygen there is, but this is wrong to some extent. The percentage of oxygen in the atmosphere stays the same it is just that the number of oxygen molecules per unit volume decreases. This means that when you are at a high altitude to inhale the same amount of oxygen as at sea level you must breathe in more air.We know that the longer you stay at a higher altitude than that, of which you are used to, your capacity to compete in these conditions, increases. However, it never reaches that level an athlete would have had when at the altitude they are mostly situated on.It was discovered that athletes born at higher altitudes adapted to this environment by producing more red blood cells, which then increased the oxygen carrying capacity of the blood. This is believed to be the reason why so many African s won events at these games, because they were raised at higher altitudes. It is also known that people from high altitudes such as the Andes have a better developed respiratory system, this can also appear in people who have been living at higher altitudes for a long time.When a person first reaches a high altitude, many things happen to their body. This is called acclimatization. Acclimatization happens when the body reaches high altitudes, which you are not used to, it, helps the body get used to this high altitude.