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How to Prepare for High Altitude Trekking

Altitude Sickness (AMS) is a serious medical condition that is caused by going up in elevation too quickly, and/or performing physical exercise when not acclimatized to the altitude.  Getting your body in shape through physical training helps prepare you for altitude changes. However, the tolerance to varying oxygen content is largely genetic and can occur in some people as low as 8,000 feet.  It is impossible to tell how an individual will do in an oxygen deprived atmosphere until he or she is in it.

Begin training for your adventure as soon as possible. The best way to prepare for high altitude trekking is to practice exactly that – high altitude, distance hikes, in your hometown.  Running, bicycling, and swimming are great for aerobic fitness, but on the trail you will be walking.

  • Get plenty of sleep. Rest aids in muscle recovery and oxygen usage.  In addition, it effects how your mind and body respond to the stress of altitude and exercise.
  • Practice sleeping outside on cold nights if possible. Remember that as you climb in elevation on your trek the accommodations become more basic and your room will most likely not be heated.
  • Drink lots of water. Proper hydration reduces headaches, helps blood flow and has many other health benefits.
  • Go slowly. Be prepared to move at a slower speed to reach greater altitudes.

High altitude training systems enable climbers to pre-acclimatize at home, drastically improving the success rate, safety and enjoyment of the climb.Altitude training systems simulate high altitudes to induce beneficial biological adaptations in the body. Besides going to (and staying in) high altitude places, using a high altitude training system is only way to pre-acclimatize to high altitude before your trip (see Pre-Acclimatization).


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