Some of the world’s most awe-inspiring attractions require a certain level of fitness to see. You might dream of jetting off to Africa and conquering Kilimanjaro. Or maybe you’d prefer to make a grand entrance to the lost city of Machu Picchu after hiking the Inca Trail in Peru. Perhaps you’d like to get even further off the beaten path by following a guide through the Annapurna Range of Nepal. You don’t have to be the ultimate fitness guru to enjoy one of these life-affirming multi-day treks. Start preparing with the tips below.
Take long walks
Most people have a fairly sedentary lifestyle these days. But if you stick to your regular balance of work and Netflix in the months leading up to your trek, you and your leg muscles will be in for a seriously sore surprise. When the weekend comes, get out in the fresh air and enjoy a challenging day hike or even just an all-afternoon walk around your hometown. You don’t have to worry about ascents and descents. As long as you can comfortably stay active and on your feet for four to six hours, you’ll have a much easier time adjusting to your long days of trekking.
Add some weight
Even if you hire a porter to carry the bulk of your materials, you’ll want to keep a day bag with you for things like your camera, snacks, and a poncho in case it starts raining. In your training walks, bring a pack with you. The more accustomed you are to walking with weight, the more comfortable you’ll feel once you start your trek for real. Carrying a weighted backpack up and down a flight of stairs is also good practice.
Take care of your feet
Having comfortable footwear is a must on any trip, but the right pair of hiking shoes on a multi-day trek is even more critical. Five traits you should look for in any pair of hiking sneakers or boots: comfort, support, durability, traction, and weatherproofing. Break them in before you start your trek and always wear a good pair of socks in a nylon-wool blend. You may also want to pay closer attention to your stride in the weeks leading up to your trek. Make sure you walk heel-toe and maintain good posture with your shoulders at an even height. A strong posture and stride will help ward off potential injury.
Establish an exercise routine
If you don’t currently exercise on a regular basis, now’s the time to start. Mix up aerobic and anaerobic exercises with work outs every other day. Running is obviously great for your cardio and your legs, but don’t forget to stretch before and after. Hop on a stair climber at the gym or do plenty of calf raises, squats, and lunges from home. Swimming and soccer can both be good training sports for trekking. Your aim should be to keep your pulse at 60-70% of your maximum heart rate.