Simulated Altitude Technology

Examples of simulated altitude training (SAT) for sports performance has been seen from as early as the 1960s and 1970s.  With origins from Soviet Union technology, oxygen reducing machines later known as ‘Hypoxicators’ reduced the oxygen concentration in the air breathed by the athlete simulating the reduced oxygen conditions of real altitude.  Delivered through a face mask, some early systems used a mix of ambient air with higher levels of nitrogen introduced through bottled nitrogen to dilute the oxygen.  Although the technology has improved dramatically, the principle remains the same.  From the mid-1980s, sports scientists started to research not only the benefits of acclimatisation for events at altitude, but also the potential benefits of SAT for sea level performance.

 The introduction of mask based training known as Intermittent Hypoxic Training (IHT) became popular throughout the 1990s – 2000.  As technology improved and mask based machines became increasingly available, research in to the physiological effects continued.  The technology in room or chamber systems also improved throughout this period.  Subjects could be completely immersed in the low oxygen (Hypoxic) environment.  Research in to the benefits of hypoxic exposure continued and sports performance centres such as the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) used room based technology.  This was used to study the effects of passive exposure, showing positive effects for endurance athletes. Combinations of active and passive protocols are now been heavily researched showing greater benefitsThis room based technology has now become available for general populations in gym or health club environments.  As research progresses, the rest of the world is becoming aware of the health and performance benefits of simulated altitude training.  

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