How to Acclimate To the High Altitudes at Wanderlust

First order of business: BREATHE — the universal mantra of yoga. This can be a bit harder than…

First order of business: BREATHE — the universal mantra of yoga. This can be a bit harder than normal at thousands feet above sea level. There’s 20 percent less oxygen (or more!) in the air at these elevations.

You may experience headache, fatigue, dizziness, nausea, shortness of breath, and sleep disturbance (and sleep is oh-so-important). If you’re feeling like you’re suffering from a bad hangover or the flu, chances are your body is struggling to adapt to the change in altitude.

Here are some tips and preventive measures to ward off the high altitude malaise:

  1. Hydrate, baby! Have a water bottle with you at all times, and drink a liter every two hours if you are working out, and a minimum of a liter for every 4 hours of inactivity. Your urine should be the color of straw, not a dark yellow color if you are keeping yourself adequately hydrated.
  2. Avoid alcohol, excessive caffeine, or sleeping pills. Abstinence from alcohol may be a tough one to adhere to in such a social and festive environment, but in the first day or two, you’ll find this can really make a difference. If you do indulge in alcohol, try to moderate. The body will eventually adapt to the elevation, but these substances do slow down the body’s ability to adjust.
  3. Rest and get your sleep. Try to take it easy when you first arrive. This may be difficult advice to follow, but try to relax the first 24 hours. Also resist the urge to stay out and party until the wee hours. Go to bed at a reasonable time.
  4. Sustain your iron level. This is an easy fix, as you can take iron supplements or eat iron-rich foods such as raisins, spinach, beans, and red meat (if you’re not vegetarian). Good iron levels help your body deliver the oxygen to your cells.
  5. Eat more carbs. Listen up those of you with a carb phobia: increase your carbohydrate intake to 70% of your total daily calories. Think pasta and bread! Compensate by cutting down on your fat intake.
  6. Acclimatize gradually. Realize that is takes from a few days to a week for your body to fully adjust to the altitude. Try to arrive a day or two early to explore the beautiful mountain area before the festival begins. You’ll be ready to rock n’ roll when the festival begins!

If you follow these tips you should minimize the devitalizing effects of the altitude change and experience a true “mountain high” adventure!

vicki_kahn92_cropVicki has lived in the North Tahoe area for over 30 years. She penned a weekly social column for 17 years celebrating life in North Tahoe. She enjoys staying fit with yoga, XC and downhill skiing, hiking, kayaking, paddle boarding, and biking. A self professed “foodie” she is an avid gourmet cook, who entertains friends often.