If you’ve ever woken up early in the morning, piled into the car, and spent the day skiing in the mountains, you probably found yourself huffing and puffing the whole time. Some of that was almost certainly due to the exhilaration of flying down the snowy slopes, but you’d have been struggling to catch your breath even when walking up the steps to buy a hot cocoa in the lodge. The usual explanation? “The air is thinner up there.” That’s true, as far as it goes, but here’s a bit more detail.

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Originally published at eHow, 2011