While living in Colorado I have become accustomed to hearing one phrase from visitors- “It’s so hard to breathe here!”
Denver is famous for being the Mile High City thanks to its elevation of 5,280 feet above sea level (a nickname that now has multiple meanings due to the legalization of recreational cannabis). Much of Colorado, however, is actually higher in elevation than Denver! Colorado is home to 53 fourteeners (mountains over 14,000 feet high) and the average elevation is 6,800 feet. To someone coming from sea level, the air feels pretty thin up here!
When we have visitors from lower locations, I always impress upon them the importance of acknowledging the change in altitude. Some people come here and think they can get by acting exactly like they do at sea level, and that’s just not the case. Here are my best tips for having a great time without getting altitude sickness!
- HYDRATE! I don’t mean to yell, but this is the most important tip I can give. You need water to help get oxygen to all the tissues in your body. When operating at a higher altitude, you need to drink more water than you normally would. When I first moved up here, my doctor actually recommended that I drink twice as much water as I was accustomed to while my body adjusted to the altitude. This is especially important if you are drinking coffee, alcohol or other beverages that will dehydrate you.
- Be mindful that alcohol will hit you harder up here. Yep, at higher elevations you will get drunk more quickly! Alternate your drinks with water or plan to drink less than normal.
- Consume nutrient dense foods. You want to support your body as it is working harder in this environment. When we have visitors, I start them off first thing in the morning with some sort of greens boost- either a morning pack of Onnit Total Primate Care or the Alkalising Greens mix from WelleCo mixed into coconut water.
- Be gentle with yourself. Move more consciously, pay attention to how your body is feeling. Altitude sickness is a real thing, and trying to push through it only makes it worse. If you start to feel poorly, it is better to back off and rest. Hike more slowly, look up and enjoy the views rather than racing to your destination.
- Consider a mushroom-based oxygenation supplement for any truly strenuous activity. ShroomTech Sport from Onnit is the one my husband and I use, it helps your body to utilize oxygen more efficiently. I’ve also heard great things about the Four Sigmatic Organic Mushroom Elixir Mix with Cordyceps.
If you have any more tips for handling an elevation change, share them in the comments below!
Happy Hiking (or whatever you’re doing),