Preparing for a High Elevation Hiking Trip

Preparing for a high altitude hikiing tripOverview

The adventure of taking a high elevation hiking or backpacking trip can be exhilarating with every step that you take upwards. The natural scenic beauty and the tranquility can be overwhelming. However, there are some very important health issues that must be addressed before venturing on a trip of this nature.

Health Consultation

A doctor consults with a patient

A health checkup is a good idea if you have any doubts about your fitness level. Image courtesy of the National Cancer Institute.

It is of paramount importance that you consult your personal physician to establish your present health status and if you are in a position to undertake a strenuous high altitude trip. You must keep in mind that you can be miles in the wilderness without any medical aid for considerable periods of time.
In some countries, it is mandatory to get a Medical Release Form that must be certified by the physician. This is to be submitted to the local authorities in the region of the high elevation trip. You may also require the assistance of a qualified, professional personal trainer that can help you attain the required level of physical strength and fitness.

The Preparation

Hiking on a tread mill to prepare for a high elevation hiking trip

A gtreadmill is a great way to help prepare for a rugged hiking trip in the mountains.

It is an established fact that oxygen levels at high altitudes diminish substantially preventing the body from performing at its optimal levels. This is more so at levels of 6000 feet (1829 m) and higher. It is therefore, vital that your fitness level is extremely high in order that the body performs under these difficult conditions.
If the trip involves hiking, then the preparation can take several months, especially, if you are not an athlete or a person who is very regular with his/her exercise regimen. It is best to start with a low intensity workout like cycling or running for about 30 minutes, between 2 to 5 days a week.
With the help of a heart rate monitor, you must try and achieve at least 75 – 85 % of your maximum heart rate with this mode of exercise. It may also be advisable to climb stairs gradually with a heavy load, may be once or twice a week.

Necessary Requirements

One of the key elements required making your trip successful and trouble free is your dedication towards your exercise routine. There must be a definite commitment on a regular basis. You must attain your peak health condition much before the date of your trip. Of course a lot of your personal training program will depend on the nature of your high altitude trip like the terrain, the climatic conditions and the accessibility to proper equipment.

Aerobic Fitness

Depending on the altitude you are going to be attempting, acquiring high levels of aerobic fitness is a must. You must gradually keep increasing your workout intensity and make them more challenging with every passing day.
Having steep hills nearby will certainly be of the most advantage and can help you train better, else there are several gym aides such as a stair climber like this one here, or a slider that can give a boost to your aerobic activity.

Strength Training

With aerobic training the leg muscles will develop quickly, but, it is equally important to have a strong back, shoulders, arms and abdominal muscles. These areas must be strengthened regularly.
Rest is important as it gives the body time to recover and rebuild – at least 8 hours of sound sleep must be obtained.
The importance of staying hydrated is critical for your development. Low intake of fluids reduces the body’s capacity to function well and can lead to fatigue and can cause altitude sickness.
Armed with these important points, you are almost ready to pursue your desire of taking a high elevation hiking trip.