On a trekking trip you will generally be hiking anywhere between four to eight hours a day, up and down mountain trails that are steep and rocky, and mostly at elevations above 10,000 feet.
Exercise at high altitude compounds physiologic stress. In addition, high altitude may create discomfort and symptoms of illness that you do not experience while exercising at lower elevations, such as shortness of breath, restlessness or sleeplessness at night, and headaches. You need to be in excellent health and top physical condition to enjoy such an experience, with adequate cardiovascular endurance, muscular strength, and excellent balance.
This level of fitness requires regular aerobic exercise for at least one hour 4-5 times a week. This may include aerobic fitness classes, power walking, jogging, cycling on hills, swimming, and cross-country skiing. Additionally, you must be able to sustain exercise for prolonged periods. Finally, you must have some experience with exercise at altitude.
We recommend that you start a moderate training program several months before departure, then slowly build up to a more strenuous level. Since training is highly sport-specific, include some hiking or running in your program. Consult your physician if you have questions concerning your underlying health. We can help answer questions for you or your physician concerning required levels of fitness and health conditions at altitude. If you have concerns about your capacity to do this trip, we can suggest appropriate alternatives.
Here’s a recommended program that should help to get you in good shape. This is only a guideline and can be adapted to your preferences. Consult a physician before commencing any new workout program.
- Begin by working out a minimum of three days per week. Strike a good balance between aerobic workout and muscle strengthening
- Outdoors, you can run, hike, or mountain bike on hilly terrain to best achieve the aerobic fitness component. Indoors at a gym, you can use the Stairmaster and treadmill wearing a backpack with some weight in it to substitute for the outdoor activities
- Work on muscle strengthening either by lifting weights or by doing pushups, sit-ups, and squats. Include a long hike on the weekend (there’s no better way to train for a hiking trip than to hike!)
- After a few weeks increase your workouts to a minimum of four days per week
Remember, a India trek can be the trip of a lifetime and you really want to enjoy it, so please take your training program seriously — it’ll be worth it!