How to Prepare for Your First Trek in the Himalaya

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First Trek-Ready-Get Set-Go!

Excited for your first trek in the Himalaya? Bet you have your backpack, shoes and daredevil spirit ready, but are you actually physically fit to take the leap? While there are a lot of factors to be considered before your first trek, let us help you get physically fit first.

PREPARATION:

Why?  

Physical fitness is key to enjoying the trek to the fullest, more so for first timers. You have to familiarize yourself with the bout of physical activity you will face while setting foot forward (rather upwards). Lack of preparation could cause a lot of difficulties and spoil the experience.

For What?

When you plan a trek to the Himalayas, you ought to train yourself physically and mentally. The first few weeks are crucial and the most challenging ones. After that, your body will get accustomed to it and you will be able to stretch further. Be careful not to start in full blast, else you might end up in injuries.

How?

  • Begin a workout regime and get into training mode. Start slow and add momentum gradually. Work-out at least four to six times a week. Eventually, start hiking, while increasing elevation.
  • Be weary of the symptoms of ill health that could grip you, like breathlessness, fatigue, exhaustion, indigestion and altitude sickness. Start training minimum 2-3 months in advance.
  • Consume foods high in carbs for high altitude treks. They provide more energy. Stay hydrated. Drink a minimum of 4 liters of water in a day.
  • Use the same shoes that you would otherwise wear while trekking. That will help you get used to the sole as well.

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EXERCISES:

Phase 1 – aerobic training and stretching

Phase 2 – strength and endurance

Phase 3 – overall fitness and acclimatization

Aerobic exercises:

  • These are integral parts of any fitness regime. They help to increase the heart rate and normalize breathing at high altitudes over a period of time. As you tread to higher altitudes, the air becomes thin, with lesser oxygen than usual. Time to habituate yourself. Start climbing stairs first, and then start going out on weekend hikes.
  • Maintain your posture during the backpack-carrying stint. Walking for an extended period of time on a slope is no easy task. You need to amp up your endurance and strength.
  • Warm up properly before stretching. Start with walking, and gradually progress to running and cycling. Then, start walking on slopes and increase the indent and time gradually, every week.
  • Running a few kilometers, walking every day or swimming a few times a week can really help support your cardiovascular functioning.
  • Developing strength on your legs alone is not enough. Focus on your whole body. Build strength in the arms, shoulders, back, and abdomen as well.

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Strength and endurance:

  • Squats are the best forms of exercise. They help in building muscles around the leg. They are equally helpful for the muscles of the upper body and help in improving metabolism.
  • Push-ups have their own benefits. They help in training and toning the muscles of the upper body like chest, shoulders, torso, and back. Once you get used to it, gradually introduce planks to your fitness program.
  • Weight training helps in enhancing physical performance, increasing the bone density, promoting fat-free body mass, strengthening the muscles and improving posture. Exercises like shoulder press, triceps press, and biceps curl falls under this category.

Those that never go out of style:

  • Running is an unbeatable form of aerobic exercise that can never be taken out of a fitness program. It helps in improving overall health, weight loss, energy gain, keeps you happy and conditions your lungs and heart.
  • Engage in stomach crunches to train your core. It strengthens and tones the abdominal and surrounding muscles, thereby improving balance.
  • Cardio workouts are best done when you train yourself at high altitudes. They help in keeping your breathing in check. Once you are used to ground exercises, head uphill and try some breathing exercises at higher altitudes. Increase the elevation gradually, so that your body is acclimatized.

TIPS:

–        Monitor your BMI

–        Take it slow and steady

–        Avoid any injury to your body

–        Set a regular workout routine

–        Consult a doctor before you begin your exercises

–        Keep a tab of your goals and targets

–        Use the staircase to stay fit

–        Keep yourself hydrated

–        Invest in good shoes

Even if you have trekked before, and are doing it after a substantial time lapse, please make sure you receive good and prolonged training before you set foot uphill again. Enjoy the challenging trek. Make it easy on yourself and your body!

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Published by

Aditi Shukla

Aditi Shukla is a traveller, explorer, soul-searcher and foodie. She loves embarking on new journeys and trying local food along the way, while documenting them on her blog Lyf&Spice (www.lyfandspice.com). She particularly loves exploring the countryside and little towns on foot, and has been nurturing her new found love for hiking for the past few years now. According to her, hiking gives a new perspective to a place and helps to uncover trails and views you would have otherwise not encountered.

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