HIKING BASICS

How Many Calories Does Hiking Burn

How Many Calories Does Hiking Burn

Hiking is one of those outdoor activities which you can’t underestimate when it comes to losing weight. There are numerous kinds of exercises which can help you burn calories and lose weight, and hiking is a perfect example to get you back in shape.

The question that most people seem to ask is: how many calories does hiking burn? Read along, and we will shed some light on this issue.

You should always remember that the ultimate workout is not on the treadmill, air-conditioned studio, or your gym – it’s in the great outdoors! According to experts, when you go hiking, you hit your muscles from different angles and engage the muscles you often miss when in the gym such as the thighs, your back, and the deep core muscles.

hiking-couple

Additionally, the trail offers some challenges that will help you exercise and burn calories, such as ditches to avoid and logs to climb over. As a result, hiking can provide results that are similar to most grueling boot-camp activities.

Engaging in outdoor activities is also excellent for your brain. A study reveals that just about 5 minutes of activities in the natural environment can boost your mood. This makes a lot of sense: a lush scenery is more inspiring compared to a gym television program.

Research from the University of Kansas and the University of Utah found that hikers scored fifty percent better on their creativity test after they had spent a few days in the natural environment, disconnected from any electronic gadgets.

hikig-girl-in-good-shape

According to scientists, the mind can relax away from the tablets and cell phones, freeing up your imagination. Therefore, any individual at fitness level can take part in Mother Nature’s gym. If you are capable of climbing a flight of stair, then you can hike. See how hiking improves the mind and body by reading on our all-important topic, so check it out.

Steps to follow when you go hiking to burn calories and increase your fitness

You should follow several steps if you wish to burn calories and increase your fitness during hiking trip.

Find a great trail

There is a number of useful website available online that can pinpoint some of the best places to go for a local hike. Therefore, you can search for a hiking location near you or outside your town using the online tools. You can search hiking sites using the zip code. Just make sure you know what you expect your trail to have.

hiker-learning-the-map

Read their detailed information such as the length of the trail, the scenery you’ll see and the trail’s difficult levels as there are simple, moderate, and difficult trails. Alternatively, you can stop by a local outdoor or hiking shop and inquire about the best trails in your area.

If you are a beginner, make sure you go for an easy hike but make it challenging. What’s impossible is making a strenuous hike easier.

Get in good form

As is the case with any other sport, you want to protect yourself from injury and obtain the most efficient workouts. When you are on flat stretches, walk like a proud individual – relaxed and shoulders pulled back, spine in line and your chest leading, not the knees.

hiker-walking

When on the downhill, minimize your stride length so that the slope can be more manageable. When you come across a monster climb, squat slightly to get a better balance. Make sure not to walk around hunched over as this could strain your back and expose the knees to injuries, especially if you are hyper-flexing them.

Despite the amount of fun you are having, make sure you take a few breaks whenever you get tired. Also, remember to keep downing water.

Reduce pace!

You don’t have to go very fast to ramp up results or tackle insane inclines. In fact, it is agreed that if you are a novice, it’s better to take on trails that have a few smaller hills and moving at a slow pace. This means that you will be putting in the same amount of energy you use when in a slow jog.

hikign-family

When hiking, you should be in a position to speak comfortably using complete sentences without having to struggle for breath. That way, you will be able to last and remain within your fat-burning zone. When you move at a slower rate for an extended period, your body burns more fats as compared to carbohydrates. With time, you’ll lose faster.

Remember not to blow through the downhill as this requires the body to work harder. When taking the downhill, your body is engaged in a plod-stop-plod-stop rhythm. That way, your body muscles must conspire to stop you, making the whole process more challenging and an excellent calorie burner.

Boost the burn

For you to enhance the benefits of your fitness during a hike, you need to undertake other activities within the hike. Jumping on and off tree stumps, lunging up slight inclines, squatting for sixty seconds and repeating the process several times can help boost the burn.

fitness during a hike

As you are walking, you may press the arms overhead, bring your elbows down your sides, repeating as you walk. Doing acts such as these will help in boosting your workout’s intensity, firing up your fat-melting burner. After you are through with these exercises, continue walking at a moderate pace.

That way, you’ll be able to burn about 25 percent more calories. What’s more, doing some extra exercises when hiking will bump up your burn to 600 calories an hour. This is yet another reason why you need to head for the hills!

Factors that influence the amount of calories you burn

Hiking is an excellent way to get in shape by losing weight. Whether you partake in daily walks in the nearby park or engage on trips to the mountains, outdoor activities will make it possible for you to burn calories and gain muscles. However, some factors will influence the number of calories you will burn.

Body Weight

Generally, the amount of calories you will burn when hiking depends on your body weight. A 160-lb individual will burn about 430 to 440 calories in a span of an hour.

two-girls-runing-during-hike

A 200-lb person will burn about 550 calories in an hour of hiking. Therefore, the heavier you are, the more the calories you will burn in one hour of hiking.

Pack Weight

You should also know that the amount of calories you burn depends on whether or not you are carrying a backpack. If you have one with you, the weight of the pack also affects the number of calories you will burn.

Tourist couple hiking in forest

When you carry a light load such as the day pack, you will burn about 50 to 100 more calories in an hour than without a load. If you have a heavy load, such as backpacks for extended trips, you’ll burn about 200 more calories in an hour.

Intensity

In a study conducted by the American Council for Sports Medicine, researchers discovered that a high-intensity exercise increases the number of calories you will burn even after you are through with your activity. When hiking at a high intensity for about 45 minutes, you will be able to burn an extra 190 calories later during the day.

group-of-people-hiking

A strenuous hike increases your metabolism, and the extra burn takes about 14.2 hours to complete once you are done with hiking. This can even continue through the first three-and-a-half hours of sleep.

Terrain

The extent of the terrain also plays a significant role in determining the number of calories you burn during a hike. Since terrains vary significantly, it’s not possible to tell how hiking in a particular area will alter the number of calories you burn. For instance, you can burn more calories when walking on a rocky, flat ground as opposed to a flat, grassy land.

intensive-hiking

Nonetheless, you will even burn more calories when you walk uphill on grassy terrain as opposed to a flat rocky terrain. Ideally, you burn more calories in a challenging terrain.

Summary table

The table below provides information on the number of calories you burn for specific activities per hour for body weights of 205-lb, 180-lb, 155-lb, and 130-lb. The calculation used are based on the result from a research data conducted by the American College of Sports Medicine.

Walking, Hiking, Climbing (1 Hour)

205 lb180 lb155 lb130 lb
Rock climbing, ascending rock1024899774649
Rock climbing rappelling745654563

472

Orienteering838735633

531

Backpacking, Hiking with pack651572493

413

Carrying infant, upstairs465409352295
Carrying infant, level ground326286246

207

Carrying 25 t0 49 pounds, upstairs745654563472
Carrying 16 to 24 Pounds, upstairs558490422

354

Walk/run, playing with kids, vigorous465409352295
Run/walk, playing with kids, moderate372327281

236

Standing, playing with kids, light261229197165
Loading, unloading car279245211

177

Climbing hills with a load of 9 pounds651572493413
Climbing hills with a load of 10-20 pounds698613528

443

Climbing hills with a load of 21-42 pounds745654563472
Climbing hills with a load of over 42 pounds838735633

531

Hiking, cross country558490422354
Walking downstairs279245211

177

Bird watching233204

176

148

Walking with kids of pushing a stroller233204176148
Marching, rapidly, military605531457

384

Race Walking605531457384
Pushing a wheelchair372327281

236

Walking the dog279245211177
Mountain climbing, rock climbing745654563

472

Run/walk, playing with animals372327281236
Walking using crutches465409352

295

Walking, pushing a wheelchair372327281

236

HOW HIKING BLASTS CALORIES

Walking a mile will not burn the same amount of calories as running, but becoming a runner is challenging and not for every person.

running-hiker

This is true because many have tried running and failed the first times. Not everyone is going to feel the pleasure in running as is the case with others, and that’s where hiking comes in. Here are some of the most important benefits you’ll get from hiking:

Increased levels of caloric burn

Although many believe that burning calories is not a priority when it comes to exercising, it’s important to know that this process makes a significant contribution towards weight reduction.

men-hiking-in-the-mountains

Hiking will burn a lot of calories per hour as opposed to walking. Judging by the increase in breathing and heart rate, the uphill section of hiking is the same to a moderately-paced run, from the perspective of calorie expenditure. To see why hiking is a complete lower body regimen, read our article on this topic.

It’s a logical progression

Psychologically, it’s simpler to push yourself during a hike than it is when running. If you want to rev up your workout routine, and running is not on the list due to lack of interest of injuries, then hiking can be an excellent alternative. This is a perfect gateway exercise as it helps in building cardiovascular fitness as well as strengthen your leg muscles.

It’s an easier outdoor activity

The best thing about hiking is that you can do it anywhere there’s a hill. You don’t have to drive to the Rocky Mountains for a hike. What’s more, novices can undertake their hiking trips in areas with small hills to give them the same mental effect.

Mountains for a hike

If you are not able to access a hill, using a treadmill at an exaggerated incline will produce a similar effect, although it’s highly recommended you get outside.

Hiking can be adventurous

If you reside in the urban areas, hiking can be a great weekend activity. Make arrangements to go somewhere with hills and a fantastic view, and don’t forget to take your friends with you. Questing to get to the top first will create motivation as you experience each other in an entirely different setting.

fantastic view hike

Instead of remaining inside to watch a movie, it’s more challenging to embark on an outdoor hiking expedition. Additionally, this activity will help burn calories and keep you in shape.

Hiking is an excellent workout

Although a significant part of the motion takes place from your waist down, the arms can also get involved when you use trekking poles. Even when you don’t, there’ll be so much pumping and swinging arm movement than with walking.

The core will be engaged more, and your body will stabilize when going over rough surfaces, while the thigh, calf, and butt muscles will be burning when you are through.

hiking girl beautiful body

The lower body will be stronger, muscular, and more tone with hiking compared to walking. Finally, since it’s a challenging cardiovascular work, the lungs and heart will also benefit from it.

How to get going

Grab a pair of boots with excellent grip and ask a friend to come with you. Find some hilly terrains in your local area. The trails don’t have to be complicated. Make sure you carry your cell phone and some water to keep your dehydration in check.

Begin with something smaller and assess your feelings about the exertion. If you find the activity fulfilling and you would like to push yourself further, you should prepare yourself for something more challenging.

hiking-for-beginners

Once you are comfortable keeping up with the pace, and after you have built up you stamina to attempt something riskier, you’ll have to plan more. Challenging hikes require additional time and money, but it beats a weekend on the couch, or doesn’t it?

Hiking is about getting out and experiencing nature. If you are new at this, make sure you begin with a pre-arranged group. There are numerous hiking groups within your area of residence. All you need to do is ask around or search the internet to see the options available to you.

hiking group

There are some outdoor gear you will need to have with you when you are out hiking. These are:

  • Hiking boots
  • A moderately-sized backpack
  • Cell phone
  • Water and food
  • A first aid kit
  • An emergency rain poncho
  • Camera
  • Sunscreen
  • A hat
  • Bear spray for self-defense
  • Sunglasses
  • Extra socks
  • Replacement shoe laces
  • Water filter
  • Mosquito repellent
  • Emergency fire-starting tools
  • A flashlight
  • A toilet paper (just in case)

Do not forget to dress comfortably. Also, you need to remember that higher elevations are usually colder, and in other cases, the terrain may be covered with snow. Therefore, it is important to know your trail and mark the season for the hike. For a complete guide to backpacking, see our article on Hiking 101 for more tips and tricks.

In conclusion

In as much as hiking is a leisure activity, it’s also an excellent way to burn calories and reduce weight. When embarking on a hiking mission, make sure you have everything planned out. Pick the right group with similar hiking objectives.

yoga-during-hiking

Going on a hike as a group, or with someone you’re close to will give you the motivation you need to keep moving. In the end, you’ll end up with many great stories to share. Remember, hiking is not a race. Enjoy it as much as you can and while at it, enjoy the scenery as well. Don’t forget to read our piece on various ankle workouts that will make you avoid injury while trekking.

So, do you plan to go hiking and burn calories? Let us know how well you are prepared for the activity by posting in our comment section.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Rebecca J. Crawford
Rebecca J. Crawford

Rebecca lives in USA, but loves hiking all over the world. Her favourite is Everest Base Camp Trek in Nepal. It usually takes 16 days, but she likes to slow down, enjoy mountains, company of other adventurers and take more pictures, so it took her 28 days last time. Another passion of Rebecca is ocean, so all short and long hikes along the ocean shore bring a lot of joy.

  • Heather Williams

    Even though I didn’t originally start hiking for the weight loss, the health benefits became pretty clear after a month or two into my new hobby. It’s really cool to see all the numbers for different activities and weights. I like that this article is geared toward beginners, as well, so I can share it with non-hiking friends and try to give them a new obsession 🙂

    • Rebecca J. Crawford

      Absolutely. Thanks for commenting.

  • Taylor Wolcott

    This is so awesome. I never had the data to support how I feel after a good hike, I just knew it felt amazing all the way into the next day. Now I learn that high-intensity activity really does keep burning calories all day! So so cool. Thanks for sharing!

    • Rebecca J. Crawford

      Glad we could help!

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