Are you looking to start a new exercise regime, but worried about the initial steps of starting exercise?

Our HypoxicHIIT classes are all about elevating your heart rate, pushing the limits and feeling great afterwards. But we understand that if you’re currently doing little-to-no exercise, this can be quite a shock to the system and require a longer time to recover before the next session. One easier way to begin an exercise programme is to start with low-intensity exercise, such as walking. This would allow you to exercise at a slower speed and heart rate compared to running or cycling, and build up towards participating in a HypoxicHIIT session.

But what if you could walk at a slower speed than you would outdoors and still achieve the same physiological benefits (i.e., matched heart rate) and mechanical load (i.e., weight-bearing)?

This is the effect of walking in a simulated altitude environment, which is exactly what a group of researchers in Switzerland showed in a recently published study. A group of obese individuals completed a 60 min walking session, three times per week, for three weeks. The walking speed was self-selected by each individual at the start of each week, and was described as a ‘comfortable’ pace. One half of the participants completed this training in a simulated altitude environment (14.5% oxygen, ~3000 m above sea level), and the other in normal conditions.

Throughout the training sessions, the participants heart rates were similar (~115 BPM) between those in the altitude and normal group. Interestingly, the speed selected by participants increased at the start of each week – but those in the altitude group repeatedly walked slower than those in the normal group every week (1.3 vs. 1.45 m/s). Finally, there were no differences in the walking mechanics of participants, but their perception of effort decreased in both groups.

So what do these results mean for you? Essentially, if you are sedentary and wanting to exercisewalking at altitude is for you. Why? You are able to walk slower than you would outdoors which would feel easier, but you still get the same benefits for the same amount of time spent exercising. To do this with us at The Altitude Centre, you can book in for a solo session or one-to-one personal training (email us via [email protected] to book in), lead by one of our Performance Specialists. There’s no need to wait!

Study details
Fernandez-Menendez et al. (2018). Obesity, doi: 10.1002/oby.22131.