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Adequacy of an Altitude Fitness Program (Living and Training) plus Intermittent Exposure to Hypoxia for Improving Hematological Biomarkers and Sports Performance of Elite Athletes: A Single-Blind Randomized Clinical Trial
International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2022, V. 19, n. 15, 9095
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Athletes incorporate altitude training programs into their conventional training to improve their performance. The purpose of this study was to determine the effects of an 8-week altitude training program that was supplemented with intermittent hypoxic training (IHE) on the blood biomarkers, sports performance, and safety profiles of elite athletes. In a single-blind randomized clinical trial that followed the CONSORT recommendations, 24 male athletes were randomized to an IHE group (HA, n = 12) or an intermittent normoxia group (NA, n = 12). The IHE consisted of 5-min cycles of hypoxia–normoxia with an FIO2 of between 10–13% for 90 min every day for 8 weeks. Hematological (red blood cells, hemoglobin, hematocrit, hematocrit, reticulated hemoglobin, reticulocytes, and erythropoietin), immunological (leukocytes, monocytes, and lymphocytes), and renal (urea, creatinine, glomerular filtrate, and total protein) biomarkers were assessed at the baseline (T1), day 28 (T2), and day 56 (T3). Sports performance was evaluated at T1 and T3 by measuring quadriceps strength and using three-time trials over the distances of 60, 400, and 1000 m on an athletics track. Statistically significant increases (p < 0.05) in erythropoietin, reticulocytes, hemoglobin, and reticulocyte hemoglobin were observed in the HA group at T3 with respect to T1 and the NA group. In addition, statistically significant improvements (p < 0.05) were achieved in all performance tests. No variations were observed in the immunological or renal biomarkers. The athletes who were living and training at 1065 m and were supplemented with IHE produced significant improvements in their hematological behavior and sports performance with optimal safety profiles.
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