Does Hiking Get You In Shape? | Hikers University

Hiking is one of the most popular outdoor activities in the United States because it offers several exciting benefits, but does hiking get you in shape?

Hiking is an excellent way to go outside, exercise, and discover new areas. Hiking is one of the best exercises for both your body and mind because of its various mental and physical health advantages. It's also more accessible than many other sports. Hikers of all ages and abilities can discover a hike that will challenge them in the right way.

Hiking on a regular basis can boost metabolism, build muscle, reduce stress, and burn fat – all of which contribute to shaping your body. Hiking has several healing benefits, and when you hike often, you will notice that these benefits touch every aspect of your life, from the body to the mind.

Hiking on a regular basis can help you lose weight, gain strength, and physically transform yourself. So, what have you got to lose? Get out on the trail and start reaping the benefits of hiking right away. Hikers from all over the world have experienced the restorative benefits of trekking on a regular basis.

After conducting research and speaking with various experienced hikers, we have put together this blog to help you understand the full benefits of hiking and how it helps us get in shape.

Table of contents


Getting in Shape with Hiking – One Step at a Time  

Many people all over the world have taken up trekking in the last year and a half to relieve stress. Hiking assisted many people in coping with the uncertainty and volatility brought on by the worldwide pandemic, climatic crises, and foreign conflict.

Whether you're a seasoned hiker or just getting started, you've probably already encountered some of the advantages of hiking. But, if you're new to hiking, returning after a hiatus, or simply looking for some motivation, we've compiled a list of the top health advantages of hiking that help shape the body. Hopefully, these advantages provide you with further reasons to get out on the path.

Increasing Your Strength and Stamina for Hiking

This outdoor workout helps you gain muscle, improve your brainpower, and release chemicals that make you feel happy. Some people regard hiking as a relaxing activity, and we agree that it is indeed relaxing. Take a leisurely trip up a hill to enjoy a picnic and a flask of tea, then sauntering down at a leisurely pace before getting back in the car and unwinding when you reach home. However, as many hikers know, the reality is rather different. Hiking is a strenuous physical task, and if you aren't in good shape, you may struggle to complete longer or more difficult hikes.

While hiking is adventurous and enjoyable, it is also physically taxing and requires that you be in decent physical condition. You should give yourself anywhere from one to seven weeks to prepare your body for trekking, depending on your present fitness level and the complexity of the hike. Ones that are longer in length and steeper in difficulty will necessitate you to be in better shape than hikes that are shorter in distance or more leisurely. Choose a hike that you can do in a few weeks of dedicated training.

Does Hiking Get Your In Shape?

Hiking is a form of a full-body workout that helps to get your body in shape. Hiking includes everything from climbing the Mount Everest and walking a flat path on a trail. Hiking can lower blood pressure and enhance cardiovascular fitness. Walking or climbing up and down the hills gives the heart a good workout and helps the body transform. Here’s how hiking can get you in shape:  

Gets the Blood Flowing

Cardiovascular activity for 30 to 60 minutes five days a week is recommended. Workouts should be done at a moderate level, meaning you can carry on a conversation while still breathing heavier and sweating. Since hiking is primarily done with the legs, do cardio that engages the key muscular groups in the lower body. Stair climbing, cycling, and running at a gym or a local stadium are all good options. To imitate a difficult hike, include hills in your training.

Strengthens Muscles

Hiking is a fantastic way to strengthen the muscles and the bones in your body. Hiking helps to decrease fat mass and increase muscle mass, resulting in a more toned and sculpted body. However, you must prepare your body before you go hiking. In order to prepare for trekking, strength train two to three times per week. Strength training will strengthen your lower and upper body, which is especially crucial if you're carrying a heavy backpack full of food and other necessities. For hiking, you don't need to gain a lot of muscle mass because the extra weight could slow you down. Rather, choose six to eight exercises per session for the glutes, legs, back, chest, shoulders, and arms to improve overall strength and fitness. Select a weight that creates tiredness by the 12th or 15th repetition, and perform two to three sets.

Improves Heart Health

Hiking paths frequently involve strong inclines, which are beneficial to your heart! You can receive the heart-healthy benefits of hiking even if you're not on a route with a lot of elevation rise.

Hiking is a type of cardiac (aerobic) exercise, which involves activities that raise your respiratory and heart rates while you fight to provide oxygen to your body. Hiking and other cardio exercises boost blood circulation to the small veins around your heart, which can become blocked over time. This increase in blood flow can reduce your risk of heart disease while also improving your cholesterol and blood pressure levels. While hiking doesn't raise your pulse rate as quickly as jogging or other forms of high-intensity fitness, don't underestimate its potential to get your blood pounding. According to experts, 30 minutes of cardio every day can provide these benefits. All the more motivation to keep hiking on the weekends!

Strengthens Bones and Glutes

Hiking is a fantastic way to strengthen your muscles and bones. You'll have to use different muscles throughout the day because each hiking trail needs you to respond to change slope and terrain angles. Each journey gives your body a unique challenge, whether it's a gentle elevation, a severe ascent, undulating hills, or something in between.

Inclines stimulate calves, glutes, hamstrings, and quads, whilst downhill areas are excellent for strengthening knees and hip flexors. The extra weight of a backpack helps to strengthen your shoulders, arms, and back. Hiking also works your core, which is a collection of torso-stabilizing muscles. It's a complete body exercise!

Hikes are one of the best activities for building your bones in addition to developing your muscles. Weight-bearing workouts, which require you to fight against gravity, are beneficial to bone health. Since bone, like a muscle, is a living structure that strengthens with activity, activities such as hiking, walking, and running can assist in increasing strength, bone density, and overall bone mass.

Improves Body Posture

Hiking is a great way to improve your balance if you've ever desired to. Hiking enhances general strength and stability by requiring the use of multiple muscle groups. Hiking, in particular, stimulates and strengthens your hips and core, which help you maintain balance on uneven terrain.

However, not every trekking route will put your balance to the test. Try exploring pathways with steeper gradients (on the descents and ascents) or more irregular terrain characteristics like roots and rocks as your hiking skills improve.

Improving your balance might help you live a happier life. It becomes more important as you get older because good balance helps lower the chance of harm from falls. While walking around your neighborhood or on the treadmill is still a fantastic way to exercise, try hiking for the added benefits of balance!

Improves Quality of Sleep

Do you need a good night's sleep? You should probably go on the hunt! Hiking, like other forms of exercise, has been shown to improve sleep quality, thereby bringing positive changes to the body. Hiking is a full-body workout that needs physical energy, and it can also be a fantastic way to exercise your mind. Mental activities that take a lot of mental fortitude include studying maps, navigating paths, and pushing through a difficult climb. All of that mental and physical exertion pushes our brains and bodies to relax and recharge with a quiet night's slumber at the end of the day. Exercise helps raise important sleep chemicals like melatonin. Morning sun exposure also aids in the regulation of our circadian cycles (our 24-hour sleep-wake cycle).  

How many calories will I burn if I hike for 30 minutes seven days a week?

Walking is one of the most basic activities to stay in shape and keep your heart healthy. Healthy individuals should walk for at least 30 minutes every weekday or150 minutes each week. Walking seven days a week will burn more calories, and you can make your walking routine more aerobic or strengthening by adding challenges.

Make the calculations

Walking for 30 minutes can burn anywhere from 90 to 200 calories. If you walk a 30-minute mile at a relaxed pace, you will burn fewer calories. Moving at a quick pace of 17 minutes per mile burns more calories.

Walking for 30 minutes burns more calories the more you weigh and the less fit you are. Walking briskly for 30 minutes per day burns between 630 and 1,400 calories per week at current rates.

Change up your walking routine

Change up your walking routine to keep it interesting and burn more calories. Include a few of inclines in your walking path. If you use a treadmill, set it on a slope for part of your workout. Walking on steeper inclines simulates trekking, which burns twice as many calories as walking on a flat path.

Strengthening Exercises

To gain muscle, incorporate strengthening workouts into your walking routine. Strength exercise does not burn a lot of calories, but it does replace fat with lean muscle mass. Your resting metabolism enhances when your body works harder in order to maintain muscle mass causing you to burn more calories throughout the day. Pump your hands as you walk with light hand weights or wrist weights.

Lift your knees high throughout a portion of your stroll to strengthen your lower body muscles. Do a set of lunges and squats ever five minutes after taking a break. On the other hand, you can perform a sequence of lunges while holding weights if you don't mind standing out. A long lunge works your glutes while a short lunge works your quadriceps.

Interval Training

You burn fewer calories doing the same workout as you get fit. Interval training can help you kick up the intensity of your walking session. Start by walking at a slow rate for a few minutes, then pick up the pace. Try skipping rope, running, or speed-walking to increase your pace to a sprint level every five minutes. For 30 seconds, maintain this surge of pace. Before the next sprint, take a minute to walk slowly and then resume your aggressive pace. Your heart rate rises considerably during sprints and stays up during the recovery phase, resulting in more calories expended.

Walking Calories per Mile

The amount of calories you burn when walking is determined by your weight and walking speed. The more calories you expend, the heavier you are. Walking quicker also burns more calories.

Walking's Advantages

Walking can aid in mood enhancement, diabetic management, blood pressure reduction, cholesterol improvement, and weight loss. For some people, walking is the ideal workout because it is low-impact, safe, and straightforward. Weight-bearing joints are not stressed by low-impact workouts.

Hiking Can Help You Change Your Life

Hiking on a regular basis can benefit you in a variety of ways. When you commit to going outside on a regular basis, you can watch your life change and your body transform in a positive way. The trails can assist you in the following ways:

Shed Pounds

Did you know that hiking can burn up to 400 calories every hour? While the exact number depends on your speed, body weight, and other factors, the essential thing is that it may be a fantastic workout while the scenery keeps you entertained.

Dealing with Grief and Loss

Losing loved ones is inevitable, but it doesn't make it any easier to cope. Nature provides a safe, healing environment for you to move away from your routine and examine your emotions. Time spent on a dirt walk among the trees can often be the most conducive to introspection and reflection.

Make Time for Family, Friends, and Nature

Step outside with your loved ones to reap the mental and physical benefits of hiking together while also feeling more connected. Hiking together allows you to disconnect from your technology and make space for open communication. Many families participate in the 52 Hike Challenge as a low-cost and memorable way to strengthen their bonds.


Peter Brooks

Peter Brooks

I’m a hiker, backpacker, and general outdoor enthusiast. I started hiking out of college while working for the National Forest Service, and have been hiking ever since. I’ve been solo hiking and leading hiking groups for two decades and have completed hundreds of small hikes and some majorones such as the Appalachian Train and the Pacific Crest Trail, and hiked on four continents. I’d love to share some of my insight with you.

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