Get Geared Up For A Major Mountain Walk
Many of the best trekking holidays in the world involve climbing – or walking up – mountains. The landscapes in these high-altitude locations can be breathtaking (in more ways than one!) but there are things you can do to prepare for your trip and, hopefully, ensure you get the most out of it.
The first thing to remember with altitude sickness is that it affects everyone differently and the most effective way to combat it is through gradual acclimatisation. The majority of tour operators will allow for this in any itinerary that involves walking or climbing at height. However, there are some steps you can take that, while not guaranteed to prevent altitude sickness, are certainly likely to help. So, here’s a bit of advice to ensure you can plan ahead for an amazing hiking holiday.
Being fit and healthy won’t mean you’ll escape altitude sickness altogether, but it will definitely make the walking easier. The reason why high altitude affects people is the lack of oxygen in the air as you climb further. This has an impact on all the natural processes in your body and will mean you have to work harder to maintain the same level of activity. Unfortunately, there’s no magic machine in the gym that can help you get used to this, but ensuring your body can cope with periods of aerobic exercise – like running or cycling – will definitely alleviate the strain. If you’re not used to training, take it slowly by only exercising for 20-30 minutes and gradually increase both the length and intensity of your workout. You’ll be amazed at the difference you notice over the course of a few months. If you’ll be carrying most of your kit with you, add in one session a week where you train with weights to strengthen your body, especially your leg muscles as they’ll take a lot of the strain. It’s also worth planning a few long, hilly walks before you set off, to get you used to hiking all day and to give you a chance to practice tackling both up and downhill trails. Spread these out across your training regime and by the time you’re getting ready to pack, you should notice a real difference in your performance.
Get Into A Rhythm
Pushing yourself too hard and too fast when walking at altitude will do you no favours at all and is likely to make you ill. Trekking at a steady pace is key, so force yourself to slow down and take smaller strides than you’re used to. This will help stop your body working too hard and ensure it can cope with the lower oxygen levels in the air as you walk.
This might sound obvious, but drinking lots of water is essential on any walking trip and even more so when you’re at high altitudes. Plan ahead to ensure you have a large enough water bottle or container for the trek you’re doing and find out whether there will be stations where you can refill throughout each day. A good way to combat dehydration is to mix rehydration salts in with your drink. These work by helping your body replace the electrolytes and fluid lost over the course of a day. Glucose is included in the solution because this stimulates water and electrolyte absorption in the intestine, so you get more benefit from your drink.