Trekking and hiking in Nepal require a certain level of physical fitness and preparation to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience. This blog may be helpful if you’re looking for details on physical fitness for high altitude trekking and hiking in Nepal.
Nepal is a Himalayan country situated in between two great world economies India and China. Offering plethora of trekking and climbing opportunities to the outside world, Nepal has become the heart of adventurous activities in the recent years. Every year a huge number of adventurers arrive in Nepal to enjoy the magnificent mountainous views along with the unique traditions and culture.
Nepal boasts of more than thousands of peaks along with the mighty Mount Everest which is a pride of every Nepalese. Other than the highest peak in the world, Nepal is home to 7 other mountains among the 14 over 8000 meters. Most of the famous and commercialized trekking goes to the Base Camp of these high mountains, which goes above 5000 meters in general.
The most popular trekking regions of Nepal are Everest Base Camp (5,364 meters), Annapurna Base Camp (4,130 meters) and Kanchenjunga Base Camp (5,160 meters) among many others. Trekking in that high altitude becomes a major threat, if your body isn’t physically fit. Below we’ll talk about the training exercises, major problems that might occur in high altitude as well as trekking gears needed that support your physical wellbeing.
How much physical exercise is needed for high altitude trekking?
Now, let’s talk about the physical exercises first. If you are an adventure enthusiast and an experienced trekker you should already know that trekking in Himalayan region demands though physical activities. On some days you might even be walking for 9-10 hours straight, with comparatively low air pressure and narrow roads. And it becomes very tough for starters to walk this long in high altitude regions if you aren’t physically fit.
Therefore, it is very important to examine your physical condition before the beginning any expedition. Before beginning any walk, people with pre-existing illnesses or medical disorders should speak with their doctor. High altitude treks can be physically demanding, even for people in good health, so it’s crucial to take your time and thoroughly acclimate before beginning. It is advised that you take a break and let your body acclimate to the altitude if you feel uneasy or encounter symptoms like headaches or shortness of breath.
You should also begin training at least three to four months before a strenuous expedition. As a result, you will be able to undertake the trek with increased strength and endurance. Regular, challenging exercise for at least an hour, three to four times a week, should be a part of any effective training program. This could involve sports like hiking, running, or cycling as well as weightlifting to increase muscular mass and general fitness. Remember that a safe and pleasurable hiking trip depends on careful planning. Therefore take the time to see a doctor, adjust to the environment properly, and prepare your body for the obstacles that lie ahead.
Physical and other health problems that might occur in higher altitudes
There are many health problems that might occur in higher altitude in the remote regions of Nepal. As good physical fitness is a must for a successful trekking you also need to have the basic idea of what might occur in the higher altitudes. Now let’s discuss about the major hazards.
Altitude sickness is one of the major health hazards and a common risk in high altitude that might occur due to different reasons. One major factor is a bad physical shape. Other factors include pre illness, less acclimatization, first time experiences etc. Altitude sickness occurs in the high altitudes due to the lower air pressure that our body is not used to with. Therefore you need to take different precautions to not let this from happening. First let’s talk about the symptoms.
Symptoms of altitude sickness:
- Nausea and Vomiting
- A headache
- Sleeping Problem
- Rapid Heartbeat
- Lack of Appetite etc.
Food poisoning is a less talked about problems in higher altitude but it happens frequently to the guests coming from different countries which might create a big issue during your trek. As you’re exposed to different foods in local lodges your stomach might not be able to digest it. And if you do more negligence on foods it creates a very big problem. Normally Nepal serves rice, lentil with veggies in most of the regions, but some regions have different cultures and they might offer different oily foods and breads that lead to food poisoning. That’s why you shall be aware of this factor as well while in remote regions.
As you’ll be walking for longer hours (5-6 on average) your body releases a lot of sweat which might lead to dehydration. We take these small factors for granted most of the times which also might lead to be a bigger threat in the end.
Precautions and Preventions for the major problems that might occur in Higher Altitudes due to Physical Fitness
To ensure safety and minimize the risk of major problems in higher altitudes due to physical fitness, it is important to take certain precautions and preventive measures. Here are some recommendations:
This is the magic trick for all the major issues that might occur due to Physical Fitness. While you’re travelling in higher altitudes more than 3,000 meters and you’re new to the experience you need to take it slow. While going to the treks above 5,000 meters it is standard for the trekkers to take rest days of two or more in different altitudes. For example if you’re going to EBC trek you stay at Namche as a rest day which is around 3000 meters in altitude and another stop at around 4000 meters above so your body gets fully acclimatized and used to with the air pressure. This is the best precaution for Altitude Sickness problem as well as many other problems that might occur.
Also if you experience Altitude Sickness symptoms you should get down to the lower altitude, rest for a day or two and try again. This will help your body get along with the climate and weather and give a relief to your trek. Therefore during any high altitude trekking and expeditions, taking rest days frequently is a must depending upon the duration of your activities and high elevation point.
Staying hydrated is crucial when engaging in physical activity, especially in high altitudes where it is advised to consume three to four liters of fluid per person each day. It is advised against purchasing bottled water because it adds to the plastic pollution problem. Instead, heated water, which is ideal for a bedtime refill, is sold in teahouses for between 150–300 Nepalese rupees per liter. As an alternative, free cold water is offered at teahouses, although it must be treated before consumption. As you’re engaging in physically demanding activity which releases lot of energy and sweat from your body you need to stay hydrated. It will help to function your body properly as well as give that extra push needed for high altitude treks.
You need to eat healthy to be healthy. As the saying goes “You are what you eat”, meaning the probability of a successful trip increases if you eat healthy. You shouldn’t drink or smoke while on high altitude trek because it affects your lung and makes it weak which might lead to major altitude sickness. Other than that you shouldn’t also have whatever you find in the high altitude regions in the name of new experience and authenticity of food because it might lead to food poisoning which will greatly affect your trip in the end. Different cultures in different regions of Nepal serves different types of foods some oily some healthy as well. So you need to be aware of what you’re eating and choose your foods wisely that can be digested by your body easily.
First Aid Kits
You need to be one step ahead of the circumstances that might come ahead. Pack all the major medicines, bandages, creams, moisturizers etc. with yourself especially if you’re travelling solo. There can be many unfavorable circumstances that might arise in the high altitudes. Therefore you need to have a first aid box that contains all the useful medicines as well as bandages for cuts and burns. This will also ensure your safety as well as keep yourself Physically Fit while going to higher altitudes. Being smart can be the solution to all the major problems.
How much to carry?
As you’ll be travelling long hours in very high altitudes carrying lot of extra weight with yourself can slow you down as well as hamper your physical health. To ensure the best physical fitness you need to take only the most important stuffs with yourself especially when you’re travelling solo. You need to be extra careful and carry as little as possible, which will also increase the success probability of your trek. Different unfavorable situations might occur in the high altitude and that extra weight might lead to other problems related to your physical health and safety.
However, it is highly recommended to take porters with you along the journey. Because they are used to with carrying loads as well as the climate which will ensure your well-being even more. You can hire different porters by contacting tour and trekking operators operating throughout the country. If you hire a porter you’ll carry only the essentials with you and focus on the trek and your physical wellness entirely. One porter usually transports the trekking equipment for two travelers in a waterproof duffel bag. They can carry up to 18kgs of weight where you can include all the important stuffs that you might need to carry on your trip.
To ensure the best physical fitness carry less, carry the most important stuffs only and be fit.
Trekking gears to support your physical fitness for high altitude trekking and hiking in Nepal
As much as other major factors like drinking water, eating healthy and acclimatization are important to have on your mind, it is very essential to take proper trekking gears with you which keeps you warm in the inside as well as gives that extra push needed while on high altitude trek. You pass by narrow roads, creeks and crooks, small waterfalls, snowy trails and many more during your hike or trek. Therefore proper shoes, warm clothes, sunglasses etc. are needed to ensure your best physical safety and well-being. Now let’s look at the major trekking gears that you must have while on Himalayan journey.
Finally to summarize the article in the end, it cannot be denied that Nepal has become a major trekking destination in recent years, attracting millions of tourists from all over the world. Most of them are nature enthusiasts who love to trek and hike into the depth of nature. Having a goal of seeing major mountain views from the nearest point possible they’re attracted to the remote regions of Nepal, which are totally different from their own culture, living, landscapes, and way of life.
Especially if you’re planning to travel solo and it’s your first time in the Himalayas, please make sure to keep in mind all the things mentioned above in the article. But it is advised to hire a tour agent who’ll assign you guides and porters. Having experienced experts along with you during your trip helps you in many different ways than one. They know the place, they know the trail and they know the people. Therefore hire an expert and they’ll take all the responsibility for your wellbeing as well as your safety. Physical fitness is a must during any high altitude trekking and hiking in a Himalayan country like Nepal. Stay one step ahead and start planning your next trip to the astounding country Nepal.