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One variant of HIF1a was found more frequently in weightlifters, while the other was found more frequently in elite endurance athletes and was associated with a higher increase in VO2 max through aerobic exercise training.
Source: 1000 Genome Project. Global averages for both sexes
HIF1A stands for the transcription factor Hypoxia Inducible Factor 1A and, as its name suggests (hypo=low, oxia=oxygen), it responds to situations of low oxygen. At high altitudes the atmospheric pressure is lower than at sea level (4000m vs sea level: atmospheric pressure 63 kPa vs 101 kPa). This makes it harder for the body to absorb oxygen and initially results in low oxygen levels of the blood (hypoxia). The body responds to this, among other mechanisms, via HIF1A. Whilst at sea level HIF1A is rapidly degraded, but at high altitudes HIF1A is preserved and helps the body adapt by improving the efficiency of oxygen delivery to cells.
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