The journey to fitness is just as tough as trekking itself, and without the right preparation, trekkers might not be so lucky. Trekking begins at a multi-day hike level, meaning that beginners to fitness need to start training regularly.
Ideally, you should aim for thirty minutes of rigorous cardio, five to seven times a week. But that may seem a lofty goal for most, and so the first challenge is to overcome any negative mindsets. By taking the time to reflect on your ability to commit to an exercise program, you can pinpoint any obstacles and come up with solutions.
The psychological component of trekking is just as important (if not more so) than training the body itself. Learning to push the body beyond your perceived limitations, is both the challenge and the joy of the fitness journey.
In other words, the more you train, the fitter you become – to the extent that you will surpass the wildest imaginings of your own abilities. Of course, regular commitment and dedication to fitness requires ironclad willpower too, and so enters the spiritual component of training.
All in all, trekking is a holistic sport, and the journey to fitness impacts not only the body, but the mind and soul as well…
Training the Body
Trekking is among the toughest of all sports, with some treks lasting up to months in duration. Add to that a heavy pack (weighing 20kg or more) and you’re in for one hell of a challenge.
Training is mandatory, not only in order to complete a trek but so as to avoid injury. Fortunately, with a regular exercise program, anyone can accomplish a trek.
If you are new to exercise entirely, you may need to start out slower than the recommended five days a week. It’s okay to start with one or two days a week, and upping this amount as time goes on.
Alternatively, you could commit to five days a week of only ten minutes, before upping this to fifteen minutes and so on. Your goals are as unique as you are individual, and there is no right or wrong timeframe in which to get fit.
For those of you who are already advanced trekkers, training will be a daily activity. In order to maintain strength, advanced and intermediate trekkers often hike with a pack once a week.
That being said, all types of cardio exercises are good for developing fitness, and trekkers aren’t limited in their choice of training activities.
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Strengthening the Mind
Exercise, in general, is notoriously difficult, not only physically but psychologically as well. Learning to combat the mind’s own excuses (or fears) forms the cornerstone of the fitness journey.
Self-talk is an effective method with which to reprogram the mind over a period of time. By repeating encouraging statements to yourself, you can strengthen your willpower and courage.
Leaving the comfort zone is never easy, and so it is vital to learn self-motivation. While some prefer to adopt a mantra, others prefer to use affirmations.
The difference between mantras and affirmations is simple, and yet both work in much the same way. While a mantra is a positive statement in and of itself, an affirmation is a positive statement that begins with the words “I am.”
For example, trekkers training for an arduous journey might find strength in the affirmation “I am powerful.” On the other hand, an example of a mantra could be something like “The body can go eight times more than the mind thinks it can.” But regardless of whether you choose to use an affirmation or a mantra, you can always speak soothing words to yourself.
Preparing the Soul
Preparing the soul for a trek is just as important as preparing the mind and body. While at first glance it may seem like you can skip this step, it is a good idea to take note. Trekking is physically draining, which can have the effect of diminishing the spirits.
To prevent this, it is recommended to practice daily meditation, which is known to promote a relaxed state of being. Meditation has been proven to reduce stress and also forms an integral aspect of trekking. Due to the long stretches of walking on a trek, trekkers have time for contemplation.
Contemplation is a form of meditation, reported to soothe the body, mind, and soul. From a holistic viewpoint, these aspects of the being are interconnected, and when one is out of balance it can result in ill health.
Interestingly, meditation and exercise work hand in hand to promote overall health, with each practice known to increase longevity.
Trekking and meditation seem to overlap organically, with beginners to meditation finding themselves observing their thoughts. If you want to add meditation to your training routine, you can benefit from any style of the practice.
The Bottom Line
Trekking is a holistic activity, and it doesn’t matter how fit you are if your head and heart aren’t in the game. Ultimately, trekking promotes a balanced lifestyle, which in turn creates an environment for success.
For example, when a person is emotionally and spiritually centered, they are more likely to push themselves further. A positive attitude is a secret to accomplishing the extraordinary, for negativity tends to shake faith. Learning how to overcome doubts and fears is essential for motivation and pro-active behaviors.
Fortunately, most trekkers choose to hike in teams, which is known to keep the morale up. That being said, trekkers must learn to find emotional support from within. It isn’t always possible to find comfort and encouragement from team members (who may be struggling themselves).
This is the reason that meditation forms such an integral aspect of the preparation process. During the challenge of the trek, you will need to be able to coach yourself to the finish line. Motivating statements and phrases must not be underestimated, as the key to all challenges is mind over matter.
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