Hiking 101: Health Benefits of Hiking

June 11, 2020

Hiking 101: Health Benefits of Hiking

Hiking is one of the best possible ways to engage yourself outdoors. With just a backpack containing everything you need for the day, you can discover the beauty of nature to behold at a pace you are most comfortable with. 

Who wouldn’t like the idea of fresh mountain air, epic view, and snow or wetland crunching under your hiking boots? But much more than these things, hiking comes with a plethora of health benefits. This leads to the question, “Is hiking a good workout?”

Hiking is a good workout that can help you burn calories. It is even far better than walking. In a study conducted by Daniel Ferries, a professor of engineering and biomechanics at the University of Florida, hiking on uneven terrain increases the amount of energy your body uses by 28% compared to walking on flat ground. 

True to its nature, hiking is more than just a calorie burner. Find out in this article what hiking has in the house for you. 

Health Benefits of Hiking

The gentle touch of the air, the warm sunshine on your face, and the earthy feel on your hiking boots - hiking is indeed fun. Alongside the joy that comes with it, hiking is good for your health too. 

Here are some of the health benefits that you can get when hiking:

A group of hikers

Physical Exercise

Hiking is one of the best ways to exercise. Regardless of the trail type that is ahead of you, hiking is an excellent whole-body workout. This is because when you are hiking, it is not only your feet that are moving, but your entire body is in full coordination. 

Hiking can help you:

  • Build stronger bones and muscles 
  • Improve heart health
  • Improve balancing skills
  • Reduce the risk of respiratory diseases

Man enjoying the epic view

Mental Health

Being one with nature instantly boosts your mood and improves your mental health. Hiking allows you to have a good time with nature, which dramatically reduces your stress, lowers the risk of depression, and calms down anxiety. 

Aside from these mental health benefits, hiking helps you open up yourself to what is around you. This way, you learn to appreciate more the natural beauty of the environment. In fact, doctors would even prescribe their patients to go outdoors to relax, reflect, and contemplate. 

Couple going on a hike

Relational Health

Aside from physical and mental health, hiking also helps you improve your relationship with others. After all, why hike alone when you can do it with a friend, family, workmate, or neighbor, right?

Hiking with a partner or hiking in groups dramatically improves the health and strength of your relationships. Since hiking is a casual way to spend outdoors with an extra kick of challenge, you can strengthen the friendship or any relationship you have with your companions. With it, you are all pulled closer together to build a healthy relationship. 

Hiking uphill

How Many Calories Does Hiking Burn?

Is hiking good exercise? How many calories does it burn?

Hiking is undeniably one of the best ways to get in shape, it will help you burn tons of calories. Since hiking is an excellent cardiovascular exercise, it is no longer surprising that hiking is indeed an excellent way to stay fit and healthy. 

The number of calories that a person can burn when hiking is as unique as DNA. Generally speaking, how many calories you will burn when you hike is dependent on your weight. The heavier you are, the more calories you will most likely burn.

Aside from weight, other factors affect the number of calories that you will burn in a hike. These factors include your metabolism, pack weight, intensity, distance, and so much more. 

According to estimates, a 160-pound adult who hikes for an hour can burn around 430 and 440 calories. On the other hand, an adult who weighs 200 pounds and hikes for an hour can burn as much as 550 calories. 

See the difference? The more you weigh, the more calories you will burn. 

How to Calculate the Calories that You Will Burn When You Hike

If you own a fitness tracking device or a smartwatch, then you already have a calorie burned calculator on hand. But if you don’t have any of these devices, you can download or use a calorie burned calculator online. 

Here are three of the best calorie burned calculator that you can use: 

Pack heavy when on a hike

How To Maximize Calorie Burn On A Hike?

As exciting as it sounds, hiking can help you eliminate unwanted calories. Here are some of the things that you can do to maximize calorie burn:

Walk Downhill Slow and Uphill Fast

Slowing down your body in a downhill helps burn calories faster since walking slower, decelerate your muscles, which forces it to work harder. On the other hand, moving more quickly when going uphill intensely burns more calories. 

 Do Push-Ups

Although hiking is a good whole body workout, it focuses more on the lower part of your body. Doing push-ups will make hiking a more holistic form of exercise for you. Push-ups are a good way to relax your lower body while keeping your upper body and core busy. 

Use Hiking Poles

According to the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, using hiking poles increases the number of calories that you will burn without making you feel the challenge of hiking and working out. Also, hiking poles can also prevent injuries by taking the pressure away from your joints. 

Man on a hike hydrating

Pack Plenty of Water

A quick and easy way to maximize burning calories when you hike us to add more weight to your hiking bag. Remember, the more you weigh, the more calories you will burn. Plus, you will surely stay hydrated during the entire hike. 

Conclusion

Hiking is a fun way to burn calories, stay active, and be healthy. Aside from its accessibility, hiking is free most of the time. So, what are you waiting for? Grab your backpack now, put on your hiking outfit, fill your bag with what you need, and let the hiking begin!

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