Hiking is a great hobby for people of all ages. It’s a fantastic way to stay active and spend more time in nature. It’s also becoming increasingly popular with celebrities as a fun workout to get in shape. But can you get a good workout from going on a hike, or are you better off hitting the gym?
This article will explore why hiking is good for your body, your mind and your bank account! We will look at whether hiking helps you lose weight, and how to get the most out of your hiking workout.
Why Is Hiking Good For You?
There are many reasons to consider taking up hiking as a form of exercise.
Going on regular hikes will improve your cardiovascular fitness, making you fitter and healthier. A brisk walk will keep your heart rate up and help you to manage your weight. Even just a 30 minute walk can burn up to 150 calories!
Hiking is a weight-bearing exercise. This means it will help you to build muscle mass. It will also strengthen your muscles, providing a full body workout. Your quadriceps, hamstrings and calves are almost constantly engaged during a hike, so you can expect to build strong, toned leg muscles.
When walking up a steep incline, your glutes will help to support your bodyweight and the weight of any bgas or equipment you are carrying, so hitting the hilly trails will help develop those muscles. Your abdominal and hip muscles also get a good workout during a hike.
There are plenty of other health benefits of hiking. Regular hiking can reduce the risk of suffering from a heart attack or heart disease by lowering your blood pressure and decreasing your cholesterol.
It can even reduce the need for insulin for those with type 2 diabetes by bringing down the sugar levels in their blood!
Hiking improves the levels of antioxidants in the blood, which is great for preventing various types of cancer. For women, walking lowers the hormone levels that can increase the risk of certain cancers such as breast cancer and endometrial cancer.
Staying active also helps to boost your immune system and speed up your metabolism, keeping you healthy. If the weather is good then hiking in the sunshine will also increase your vitamin D levels.
Hiking minimizes the risk of developing osteoarthritis by increasing bone density. If you already suffer from arthritis, hiking can help to loosen your stiff joints and is a safe, low impact exercise.
It’s not just your physical health that can be improved with hiking- it has a positive effect on your mental health too! Exercising outdoors can reduce stress and anxiety and improve your mood by releasing adrenaline and endorphins.
Improved mental health and exercising outdoors also helps you sleep better, which has a positive affect on your overall health.
Hiking is also good for your brain! Hiking releases the gene cell BDNF – brain derived neurotrophic factor. This gene stimulates the growth of new neurons in your brain.
When you hike, it gives you a good opportunity to step away from technology.
Your eyes get a break from the screen, and you have more head space to think and recharge. Regular hiking can improve your attention span and increase your creativity by up to 50%.
There are so many benefits to hiking, but can it help you to lose weight?
Is Hiking Good For Weight Loss?
There are many forms of exercise to choose from to help you lose weight, so why choose hiking?
Intensive forms of exercise such as running may make you lose weight faster, but you can still burn as many as 400-500 calories during a one hour hike. It is easier on your joints than running or other high-impact sports, making you less likely to suffer an injury.
It also allows you to exercise for longer, which can be better for your body and fitness levels than short bursts of intensive exercise.
Because hiking is a low impact activity, the calories you burn is mostly from fat cells in your body. This makes it a great way to lose weight. Hiking burns more calories than slower walks on flatter routes.
Hiking is a form of aerobic exercise, which means your breathing and heart rate will increase. This gives you a good cardio workout and will help you shift those pounds!
Exercise is only half the battle with weight loss – you also need to consider your diet.
Make sure you are eating the recommended number of calories for your height and weight, and try and choose healthy snacks to keep your energy levels up on the trails.
How To Get The Most Out Of Your Hiking Workout
If you really want to focus on losing weight and toning up, there are ways to make your hiking workout more intense to speed up your results.
You can try carrying a heavier backpack. Increasing your load with extra water bottles or weights will increase your heart rate and make your body work harder, burning more calories. It will also give your glutes and abs a better workout.
Choosing more challenging, hilly routes will also help with weight loss. Your muscles and your lungs will need to work harder, using up more energy as you climb the steep paths.
Check your pace, and try to gradually get quicker. This will improve your fitness and make sure you get a good sweat on, burning more calories.
To make the most of your hike- walk fast uphill to increase your heart rate. Slow down on the descent to engage your muscles and make them work even harder, increasing the amount of calories you burn.
Walking on uneven terrain will help you work on your balance and stability and tone your muscles. This dynamic workout will increase your metabolic rate, allowing you to burn calories faster.
If you really want to push yourself and turn your hike into an epic workout, try adding some hill sprints or stop and do some push-ups and squats along the way.
Hiking is an endurance exercise- the more you do it the better your stamina will become. This means you can hike for longer, choose tougher trails, and burn even more calories. But remember to build up your strength and fitness gradually to avoid sustaining an injury.
Other Benefits of Hiking
So we have established that hiking is good for you and can help you to lose weight. But why else should you choose a hiking workout? Why is hiking better than running or going to the gym?
Are you carrying some extra weight? Maybe you have a pre-existing injury or suffer with joint pain? Do you feel generally unfit? No problem! Hiking can still be the right workout for you. It is a low impact activity suitable for people of all ages and experience levels.
You can start off slow on a flatter route and gradually build up your mileage until you become a pro.
All you need to do is put one foot in front of the other – much less intimidating for a beginner than getting on a treadmill or learning how to use different weights at the gym!
You don’t need much equipment to get started. A pair of good quality hiking boots, comfortable clothes that are suitable for the weather conditions and sturdy rucksack will be enough to get you started.
That’s cheaper than fitting out your garage with exercise machines or paying for a monthly gym membership. When you’re a hiker, the great outdoors is your gym- free of charge!
Working out in the same gym every day can become boring and monotonous. When you hike, your view is always changing. Try new trails to change up your surroundings, or hike all year round to see what affect the change of seasons has one the landscape.
There are always new things to see- different plants and wildlife to spot- much more interesting than being cooped up inside the same four walls every time you work out!
Hiking can be a solo or social activity. If you are looking to meet people in your area you can join a local hiking group. This will help you to make friends whilst improving your fitness and satisfying your yearning for adventure all at once!
Are you a busy parent with no time to workout or get to the gym? Take your family with you on the hike and you can all benefit from exercise and spending time outdoors. It’s even suitable for your pet dogs.
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Hiking is also a great way to keep fit and lose weight as it can be done alongside other hobbies. You could pack your swimsuit and a towel and go wild swimming to cool off during your hike.
Take your binoculars and do a spot of bird watching. If you are interested in photography, make the most of your picturesque surroundings by taking your camera and snapping some pictures. You can even turn your hike into a camping trip!
Once you have exhausted the hiking trails in your local area and you feel your fitness has improved, you can go further afield. Try hiking day trips or even book a walking holiday!
Hiking is the workout you can take with you anywhere. It’s a great way to explore new places and make the most of the different landscapes. Pack yourself a healthy picnic and get outdoors to take in the scenery.
Whilst hiking is a great way to workout and suitable for everyone, it is important to stay safe.
Wear good quality hiking boots that provide plenty of support to prevent injury. Check the weather forecast before you go and make sure you wear weather appropriate clothing. If you’re hiking in the sun, wear a hat to keep your face shaded and be sure to use sunscreen to protect your skin.
Hiking can be tiring and you will work up a sweat. Make sure you stay hydrated and if you are on a longer hike be sure to bring something to eat to keep your energy levels up. Avoid sugary snacks and go for something which will release energy slowly and keep you going for longer.
Do your research- if you are exploring a new area then make sure you check what wildlife you are likely to encounter and follow the advice given by the local authorities. If you plan on wild swimming during your hike, make sure the water is safe for swimming before getting in.
Familiarize yourself with the route before you set off and make a note of relevant check points and facilities along the way. Make sure you tell a friend or family member where you are going and what time you expect to be back. If you get lost, they can send someone to look for you.
Use a map and compass to stay on track- if you don’t have much experience with map reading try and get some practice in before attempting a long route.
Hiking with a friend is safer than hiking alone, especially if you are heading for a particularly remote area. If you are attempting tricky routes or plan to camp along the way, you may want to consider taking a first aid kit to ensure you are prepared for minor injuries.
Leave no trace. When exploring in nature it is important to leave the area just as you found it. Take all litter with you to be disposed of properly. Pick up any dog mess and try not to disturb the local wildlife.