Objectives: A considerable part of the millions of Alpine tourists suffer from pre-existing diseases (e.g., metabolic syndrome) and high daily stress levels. The main goal of the Austrian Moderate Altitude Study (AMAS) was to investigate (a) the consequences of an active vacation at moderate altitude on the key parameters of the metabolic syndrome (AMAS I) and (b) the effects of a short active vacation on adult progenitor cells, bio-psychological parameters, and heart rate variability (HRV).
Methods: During the AMAS I pilot study (n = 22; 1,700 m a.s.l.) and AMAS I main study (n = 71; 1,700 m a.s.l. and 200 m a.s.l.), the volunteers simulated 3-week coached hiking vacations. For AMAS II, healthy volunteers (n = 13) participated in a 1-week active holiday at 1,700 m.
Results: There were significant improvements of obesity, hypertension, dyslipidemia, and insulin resistance of AMAS I patients after the vacation. In AMAS II participants, we found an increase in circulating endothelial progenitor cells as well as improvements in bio-psychological and HRV parameters.
Conclusions: Active vacations at moderate altitude are associated with a variety of positive health effects in persons with metabolic syndrome and in healthy subjects.