Sports in High Altitude


Hannah Earley, Reporter

Durango’s elevation of 6,512 ft makes playing sports very difficult until the body has time to acclimate. Being at a high altitude makes it much harder for oxygen to flow through your lungs, because of the atmospheric pressure. When playing sports in higher altitude the need for more water breaks, going at a slower pace, and having to adjusting to such high elevation is crucial.

“We play a school that’s lower elevation than us and our oxygen level is higher so they are able to run longer,” said Vogt.

There is most definitely an unfair advantage when Durango plays against teams coming from sea level. Players don’t get tired as quickly as players coming from a lower altitude. All sports are affected by high altitude, but it can get easier to play in such conditions. Eventually, players get used to the high altitude, and are able to practice and train under such high elevation without the need to go at a slower pace.

“Swimming is all breathing and it’s difficult to swim under high elevation,” said So. Candace Dellinger.  I will allow more breaks for water than coaches at sea level will.

“I’ll give them more water breaks here then if we were playing in a lower elevation.” said Vogt.

Playing sports at a higher altitude is beneficial in many ways. Most professional athletes will train themselves at a higher elevation so when they compete at sea level, it will feel easier and they will be able to play for longer periods of time without getting as tired. Playing sports at a high elevation also increases red blood cell count which is crucial for allowing more oxygen into the muscles.

Dr. Frederico Formenti from said, “It is the higher capacity to deliver fuel to muscles that athletes are interested in.”

There are many things aspiring professional athletes can do to make training in higher altitude easier. One of which is to keep a high carbohydrate and low sodium diet. This will result with the ease of mountain sickness. Mountain sickness can occur when the body is overworked under high elevation.

Drinking lots of water is always beneficial whether you are playing sports or just in a place with a higher elevation. Mountain air is very dry which results in the need to replenish your body with plenty of water. If you have been playing in another state with a lower altitude it is best to pace yourself greatly until you have adapted back into the higher altitude.

“I’ve grown up with it and my body has been able to adapt to the high altitude,” said So. Stella Walsh.

Sidebar: The highest altitude in Durango, Colorado is 10,822 ft.