Hiking and climbing in the rugged, gorgeous terrain are good for the soul – as well as our health. As Calgarians, we’re incredibly lucky to have the majestic Rocky Mountains on our doorstep.
Benefits of hiking in the Rockies
Exercising in high altitudes like the Rocky Mountains has an incredibly powerful effect on fitness and oxygen capacity. That’s why so many athletes use altitude training to boost their sporting performance.
How does altitude training work?
Hiking in high altitudes can increase your physical endurance and fitness when you return to lower altitudes, and the effects can last for 10 to 20 days!
How altitude training impacts your body
- Your body works harder
Because air is thinner at higher altitudes, there are fewer oxygen molecules and your body has to work harder to get oxygen to your muscles.
- Hiking in high altitudes triggers hormonal changes
Oxygen-thin air triggers the hormone erythropoietin (also known as EPO), which tells your body to make more red blood cells to transport oxygen. You can power up your stamina and fitness naturally just by getting out into the Rockies!
- Noticeable effects of altitude training begin around 5,000 feet above sea level
The effect of altitude training is most dramatic at heights of greater than 8,000 feet (2,438 meters) above sea level but is noticeable even at 5,000 feet (1,524 meters).
How to begin an altitude training program
You don’t have to be an expert to try altitude training in the Rocky Mountains. Here are a few recommendations to help you get started:
- Find hikes that suit your athletic abilities
The Rocky Mountains boast beautiful hikes ranging from beginner, intermediate to expert. If you don’t have experience with hiking, start with an easy hike, such as the gentle trail walk along the lakeshore of Bow Glacier Falls. Or, if you are a comfortable and experienced hiker why not embrace the 700 metre, 6 kilometre Ha Ling Peak hiking trail?
- Try interval training
If you are too busy to get away each weekend to the Rockies, interval training is an ideal way to prepare your body for higher altitudes. Interval training specially trains your cardiovascular system by increasing your heart rate significantly and then allowing it to recover again before elevating it. Examples of interval training activities include running sprints, running hills or using the interval setting on a treadmill or exercise bike.
- Practice your breathing
To conserve your breath and expand your breathing capacity during high altitude hikes, practice yoga breathing techniques.
Remember to consult with your physician before beginning a new exercise regime and determine which activities are safe and recommended for you. Altitude training, internal training, and yoga all depend on your age and physical condition.
Want a little help with your fitness program? INLIV offers personal training packages for everyone from beginners to seasoned athletes. And to help get you started on your fitness path or establish your current baseline, you receive a free advanced, medically-based fitness assessment with the purchase of 10 personal training passes.