Go High & Stay Healthy: Acclimation tips for High Altitude - Winter Park Mountain LodgeWinter Park Mountain Lodge
Go High & Stay Healthy:  Acclimation tips for High Altitude

Go High & Stay Healthy: Acclimation tips for High Altitude

by Winter Park, April 29, 2016
Denver is called the ‘Mile High City’ for a reason (it’s precisely 5280 feet above sea level), and Winter Park stands approximately 9,052 feet in elevation. Admittedly, life is pretty great at the top; ‘high altitude’ is typically considered anywhere from 5,000 and 11,500 feet. ‘Very high altitude’ is between 11,500 feet and 18,000 feet, and ‘extreme altitude’ is anything above 18,000 feet. Don’t let that scare you though – the air in our beloved Colorado climate is just thinner and dryer (and because of that, our skies are more blue and amazing – so it’s a bit of a trade off, you see). Some people are more sensitive to the change in oxygen levels than others, so it’s important to do your research and prepare your body for the lower oxygen pressure if you’re traveling to a place of high altitude.

Agua is your friend

First things first, stay hydrated! Hydration is the number one way to help your body adjust to the altitude. Consider drinking two times the amount of water (at least 8 glasses a day) than you do at home. Monitor your alcohol intake, as the effects of alcohol are magnified in altitude (coincidentally, so are the effects of hangovers); a glass of water with every alcoholic beverage consumed is probably a safe bet.
Extra Tip: Throw an Emergen-C (Vitamin C) packet into your water bottle for an added boost. Both Vitamin C and Vitamin E are said to help combat altitude sickness, as are other antioxidants.

Slow it down

Trust us – we know it’s exciting, and the views are great from up here, but it’s also good to allow yourself adequate time to acclimate. If you’re heading to a place with high altitude, try to curb the heavy activity initially to give your body time to adjust. Stick with less taxing activities first (typically within the first 1-3 days), and save the high-energy activities (hiking, biking, climbing, etc.) for a couple days into the trip. And for all of your marathon runners out there, know that training in high altitude vs. sea level will feel significantly more challenging (so, don’t panic – it’s not you). Know when to dial back the miles; if you’re feeling sore, or experiencing shortness of breath / constant fatigue – blame it on the altitude.

Come prepared

An easy way to check the exact elevation of your destination is to use a site like veloroutes.org. Packing the appropriate necessities will save you from the elements. Any type of altitude means that you’re closer to the sun; so don’t forget to shade yourself (hats, sunglasses, etc.). Layers are key, as the varying proximity to sun usually causes it to feel warmer during the day, and significantly cooler at night. Last but definitely not least, sunscreen – you will burn, I don’t care what type of skin tone you have. Save yourself the sunspots and lather up!

What diet?

Think high potassium and complex carbohydrates. Both will help you to better process the oxygen that your body has access to and will keep you energized. Your body is burning energy faster, and working harder because of the altitude, so stick to foods like whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and/or legumes. Avoid foods with high sodium (your body will thank us later).

Know the signs

Altitude sickness can strike anyone, regardless of fitness level. Typical symptoms include:
• Headaches / Body aches
• Dizziness
• Loss of appetite
• Nausea/vomiting
• Fatigue/loss of energy
• Insomnia
Take note of the preventative measures listed above to avoid these symptoms. We hope that your travels eventually take you to Winter Park, CO, but now you’ll be prepared for altitude at any capacity!

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