For those of you new to trekking, you have a wonderful experience in store. Trekking is walking, generally on good trails, usually up and down (sometimes 3,000 feet/900 meters a day), carrying only a day pack, through magnificent scenery. The day starts early – often the bulk of the day’s distance is covered before lunch. Lunch is a hot meal served on the trail by the staff. A shorter afternoon hike brings you to camp or your lodge with time to rest, have a cup of tea, take pictures, make journal notes, and wash up before dinner.
Nepal is not like home. It is exotic, it is wonderful, but it is also different. Remarkable elevation changes, different customs and language, new foods, and the many other mysteries and wonders of travel in Nepal are all conditions you must be physically and mentally prepared for. The itinerary may change and you may meet unknown hardships as well as unexpected pleasures. Come with an open mind and a positive spirit.
For all Nepal treks, you should be in good physical shape. Depending on the trek you finally choose, you should be comfortable hiking seven to twelve miles per day on a trail carrying a day pack of about ten pounds.
Being physically fit is crucial for how well you do on your trek. The better physical condition you are in, the smoother your trek will be. Whether you opt for an easy trek or a strenuous one, it is advised that you have a good basic level of fitness. Here are a few things you’ll need to ensure you have enough strength and stamina for your trek:
Create a workout schedule
Having a workout routine (provided that you commit to it fully) will help you be in top form before your trek. A general rule of thumb is committing to a minimum of 3 months of continual conditioning.
It is a key factor of a comfortable trekking experience; if your body is used to physical exertion, you will be less likely to suffer from exhaustion or injury. Try to get your heart rate up with any form of aerobic activity for at least twenty minutes a day.
Focus on endurance
Trekking in the Himalayas can require long days of sustained movement. Once or twice per week, try a longer workout to prepare your body for longer distances. The Everest and Manasalu treks are both known to be strenuous treks.
Engage in strength training
In addition to aerobic conditioning, use strength training exercises to tone your muscles before your trek in the Himalayas. Using free weights or machines at the gym will build up your strength.
Hike on hills
Trekking in the Himalayas will include many steep ascents and descents, so prepare your body accordingly. At least once or twice per week, make a point to include hills in your daily workout. Alternate between steep hills and gradual inclines. If you can, carry your backpack during these workouts for additional physical conditioning.
Himalayan treks often include forays into high altitudes, which can affect the body in dramatic ways. Plan several weekend or longer trips to an area of high elevation to get an idea of how your body will react.
High altitude treks can include both long and short treks.
Again, if it’s just a brisk twenty minute walk every day, it makes a difference. Try to avoid the elevators and use the stairs instead. Walk to the store. Make this a daily habit.
Take Up A Sport
Whether you used to be quite the athelete in high school or you’ve barely touched a basketball, take up a sport that engages your muscles. This could be soccer, basketball, tennis, cycling…the list goes on. If you’re not into all this then take up a milder form of exercise like swimming or yoga. That will give you the workout you need without putting much strain on the joints.
Keep yourself nourished
Eat healthy, nutritious, balanced food. Tone down on the fried stuff and eat more lean meats, vegetables and tofu, you get the idea. Cut down on alcohol and keep yourself hydrated.
Consult your physician
If you have any pre-existing health conditions, it is vital that you go see your physician about your workout plans. Your doctor can guide you towards which exercises are suitable for you and can point out to which ones you should avoid.
Also do read our recent article on training for treks.