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Weighty Concerns

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If the promise of better turns, easier hikes and more enjoyable mountain bike rides won’t lure you to the gym, maybe this news will: Packing extra pounds makes you a prime candidate for altitude sickness. A recent study found that 78 percent of obese people experienced symptoms of altitude sickness, compared to 40 percent of normal-weight people, when placed in an altitude chamber simulating 12,000 feet. Researchers note that the 78 percent would likely have been even higher if the test subjects had been exercising. It’s unclear why extra pounds increase altitude-sickness risk, but impaired lung function that leads to shortness of breath appears to be one piece of the puzzle.