Mountaineering activities require a relatively high level of fitness simply due to the fact that uphill walking is associated with much higher energy demands than level walking (Burtscher, 2004; Burtscher et al., 2015). This would implicate that people regularly performing mountaineering activities are fitter than the general population. Higher fitness levels acquired by regular physical activity are associated with a better health status, reduced morbidity and mortality (Myers et al., 2002; Kokkinos et al., 2011).
Such beneficial effects may at least partly be caused by modifying classical risk factors for cardiovascular diseases but also by direct effects on the cardiovascular system (Thompson et al. 2003). In this regard we found that that long-term alpine skiing on a regular basis may contribute to healthy aging also by its association with a healthier life style although down-hill skiing is not primarily an aerobic activity (Burtscher et al. 2013).
Therefore, we hypothesize that predominant aerobic activities like walking uphill and climbing and carrying additional loads as regularly done by mountain guides would even elicit more beneficial health effects than downhill skiing. Thus, the main goal of the present study was to investigate the age-dependent health status and fitness level of three different age groups of military mountain guides.
Puehringer, Reinhard, Martin Berger, Michael Said, and Martin Burtscher. Age-dependent health status and cardiorespiratory fitness in Austrian military mountain guides. High Alt Med Biol. 21:346–351, 2020.
Background: Mountaineering activities (at moderate and high altitudes) require a relatively high level of physical fitness, which may be closely associated with healthy aging. This cross-sectional study was aimed at evaluating the age-dependent health status and fitness level in Austrian military mountain guides.
Methods: A total of 166 professional mountain guides were recruited for a comprehensive health check and exercise testing. Comparisons were made between 3 different age groups, that is, ≤40 years (n = 74), 41–50 years (n = 70), and >50 years (n = 22). Besides exercise capacity, anthropometric, biomedical, and cardiorespiratory parameters have been assessed.
Results: None of the assessed parameters differed between age group 1 and 2. A slight increase was observed in the age group 3 concerning body weight, body mass index, blood lipids, blood glucose, and urea levels, and resting systemic blood pressure values. Peak aerobic capacity and maximal heart rates were slightly lower in this age group than the younger groups. When compared with the general population, mountain guides of similar age showed lower prevalence of being overweight, and suffering from systemic hypertension and diabetes.
Conclusions: Our findings indicate favorable aging of mountain guides occupationally performing mountaineering activities (at moderate and high altitudes), characterized by maintaining a high fitness level and developing reduced cardiovascular risk factors until older than 50 years.
Mag. Reinhard Pühringer
Univ.-Prof. DDr. Martin Burtscher
Kategorie: Blog, Sportwissenschaften Alpinsport Höhenphysiologie
Datum: 10. Nov 2021
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