Training for high altitude

Discussion in 'Health and Fitness' started by Stayangry, Sep 5, 2007.

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  1. Hi There,

    The missus and I are off to Peru next year to walk the Inca Trail and see Macchu Pichu (sic?), high up in the Andes.

    The guidebook says we should be starting to train for the expedition now as the air up there is very thin, but I'm not clear as to exactly how I can prepare, living and working at low level.

    I am envisaging the actual walking to be pretty easy, with stages of just a few miles a day, but apparently even this modest progress can be taxing.

    Is there any meaningful fitness training we can do to prepare for high altitude, or is it just a case of improving general aerobic fitness and hoping for the best?

  2. Alsacien

    Alsacien LE Moderator

    If you cannot get acclimatised beforehand (there is nowhere high enough in UK anyway), best is aerobic fitness. Altitude sickness is an individual thing, but in general fit people with good circulation fare better. Keep yourself very hydrated, consiously breath deeper and use aspirin if you really need to help the headache. Don't take Diamox as a preventative - that is not its purpose.
  3. As Alsacien said, there is no way that you can train for altitude in advance. The only way is to get used to it once you're there - ie acclimatise.

    Machu Pichu itself is at about 2,400m so you are unlikely to really notice the altitude once you're there unless you run around a lot. However if you're planning to walk in, the route crosses a couple of fairly high passes, including one over 4,000m. While this in itself shouldn't be a problem, you may well get a headache, if you come straight from sea-level. The general rule in the mountains is to climb high and sleep low.

    As to the training that you can do, I think that you're on the right track - general aerobic fitness, enough so that you're comfortable walking all day carrying what you intend to carry.

    Alsacien, is that the current recommendation regarding Diamox? I heard reports a few years ago of reduced instances and severity of AMS after taking Diamox prophalacticly.