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If you’ve ever attempted even a moderately strenuous hike, you’ve probably found yourself wondering: Just how many calories do you burn hiking? After all, once you’ve called it quits for the day, you feel hungry enough to eat a horse. That must mean that you’ve torched through a ton of calories, right?
We’ve all been there. The good news is, hiking can be a great form of exercise, especially if you’re covering hilly terrain. However, when it comes to calorie burn, it’s not a one-size-fits-all situation. Many factors can affect the outcome. That’s where this guide comes in.
How Many Calories are Burned in Hiking?
As we mentioned, there’s no general answer to this question. The following factors can all affect how many calories are burned while hiking:
The heavier the hiker is, the harder he or she has to work to complete the hike. Therefore, a 225-pound hiker will naturally burn more calories per hour than a hiker who weighs 175 pounds. The 225-pound individual will burn roughly 750 calories per hour, while their 175-pound counterpart will burn around 600 calories in the same period.
A corollary to this involves the weight of the gear that the hiker is carrying. Since a backpack filled with gear will cause you to exert more energy during a hike, you’ll burn more calories when carrying a heavy load. This affects the calorie burn only slightly, but it can be enough to make a difference on hikes lasting a day or more.
A faster pace will boost the heart rate, thereby torching more calories as the hike progresses. A 165-pound hiker traveling at 2 miles per hour might lose 185 calories in that time, but revving up to 3.5 miles per hour can increase the calorie output by nearly 100.
Hiking trails that cover a lot of hilly ground require greater exertion than their flatter counterparts, which can amp up the calorie burn. A rugged climb up steep terrain can help a 185-pound hiker lose up to to 750 calories per hour. Roughly translated, this means that hiking up a 20 percent grade for half an hour can torch three times as many calories as a level walk over the same period of time. If you’re stuck with a level trail, walking faster can help to make up the difference (see Speed, above).
Is Hiking A Good Form Of Exercise?
The short answer is yes. Here’s why.
Is hiking a good way to lose weight?
Any form of physical activity can be instrumental when it comes to weight loss, but hiking has several advantages over the competition. First of all, it doesn’t require any special training or equipment (with the exception of a sturdy pair of well-broken-in hiking boots). Second, it encourages you to go out and explore the great outdoors. And finally, it stimulates both the mind and the body, so you’re more likely to stick with it as a workout routine.
Is hiking enough exercise?
It can be, but only if the hikes are long enough to count. In order to achieve the maximum benefit from your hiking routine, you should plan on three two-hour outings per week. If you can’t fit this into your schedule, you should consider supplementing the hikes with a different cardio activity.
Does hiking burn more calories than running?
Because running is typically done at a faster pace than hiking, it translates into a slightly higher per-hour caloric burn rate. However, if you have the time to devote to longer hikes, you might actually end up torching more calories that way.
Does hiking count as cardio?
Any activity that works the muscles enough to get the heart pumping counts as a cardio activity, and hiking definitely fits the bill. A hiking routine can contribute to higher bone density, strengthen muscles, and reduce the risk of heart disease.
Does hiking keep you fit?
It certainly can. A person weighing about 185 pounds can lose up to a pound a week if they stick to a regular hiking regimen of moderately difficult two-hour hikes three times per week.
Does hiking tone your body?
Because hiking helps to build muscle tone, it can contribute to a stronger build—and a leaner appearance. If you carry a backpack on your hikes, your shoulder and arm muscles will reap greater benefits than they would on a weightless journey.
How does hiking change your body?
In addition to lowering blood pressure and blood sugar levels, hiking offers many positive physical benefits. To name just a few:
- Increases bone density
- Strengthens core muscles
- Builds endurance in the leg muscles, specifically the glutes, quads, and hamstrings
- Improves balance
- Keeps weight under control
Is hiking once a week enough exercise?
If a tight schedule forces you to limit your hiking activities to a single weekend day, try to make sure that you get in at least 150 minutes. While it’s better to exercise more than once per week, one long hike is preferable to no exercise at all.