This answer mentions,

The single most effective thing you can do to improve your acclimatization rate is to get in good aerobic shape before starting your trip.

It seems plausible that being in good aerobic shape would help one acclimatize, are there there any studies to back this up?

  • I think things are usually mixed up: Fitness does not prevent altitude sickness, but it obviously can be a requirement for successful and efficient acclimatisation. One method for acclimatisation is to climb high and sleep low - if you aren't fit enough to go high, that won't work.
    – imsodin
    Commented Sep 15, 2017 at 19:27
  • 1
    You've misinterpreted the statement I think. Being in-shape doesn't decrease your risk of altitude sickness, it increases your rate of acclimatization. Meaning you will acclimatize faster than the average person.
    – ShemSeger
    Commented Sep 15, 2017 at 21:39
  • 2
    @ShemSeger Do you have any studies to back that up? Commented Sep 15, 2017 at 21:48
  • I was merely pointing out the discrepancy between the asks in your question title versus in the body of your question. There's a difference between getting altitude sickness and acclimatizing. You can get altitude sickness easier if you aren't properly acclimatized. Anyone can acclimatize to a degree, but the statement in in question claims you can acclimatize faster if you're in better shape to begin with.
    – ShemSeger
    Commented Sep 15, 2017 at 21:56
  • @ShemSeger But wouldn't acclimatizing faster mean that you have a lower chance of getting altitude sickness? Commented Sep 15, 2017 at 22:04

1 Answer 1


No - the studies show that aerobic fitness has no protective effect. This is from the Institute for Altitude Medicine:


Physical fitness offers no protection from altitude illness. In fact, many young fit athletes drive themselves too hard at altitude prior to acclimatizing thinking they can push through the discomfort. They ignore signs of altitude illness thinking it can't affect them because they are fit and healthy. Everyone, regardless of fitness, is susceptible to AMS.


Anecdotally, I remember a season in Chamonix with my climbing partner - we hadn't done much training before the trip but spent a few days acclimatising. Then we were joined by a couple of friends who were superbly fit, having recently run fast times in the London Marathon. We blew them off the hill for the first two or three days till they caught up with their acclimatisation. There are no shorcuts.


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