Is Trail Running Good For You? | Hikers University

How is trail running good for you? It reduces stress, builds muscle, increases your cardio fitness, and brings you close to nature.

If you are looking for an outdoor activity that is beneficial for both your mind and body, trail running is one of the best options.

Trail running is great for your body as well as your mind. It can boost your mental well-being, strengthen your stabilizer muscles, improve your balance and coordination, make you more socially active, and force you to pay more attention to things. 

Here, I give out some tips for improving your trail runs in terms of how much benefit you reap out of them. 

My comprehensive research for this piece included talking to professional running coaches and reading advice from a number of experienced trail runners.

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Is Trail Running Good For You?

Trail running is a fantastic way to get some fresh air and exercise, but is it really good for you? Let's take a look at some of the benefits of trail running to see if it's worth adding to your workout routine.

One of the great things about trail running is that it gets you out into nature. And there are plenty of studies that show spending time in nature can have some pretty amazing health benefits. For example, one study found that just 20 minutes spent in nature can help reduce stress levels and improve mood and energy levels.

Another benefit of trail running is that it's a great workout for your heart and lungs. A study from the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport found that trail running can help improve cardiovascular fitness. And since trail running often involves hilly terrain, it can also help build strength and endurance.

If you're looking for a workout that's low-impact but still challenging, trail running is a great option. The soft surfaces of most trails are easier on your joints than pavement, making it a good choice for people with joint problems or injuries.

So, if you're looking for a way to get some fresh air, reduce stress, and improve your fitness, trail running is definitely worth considering. Just be sure to start slowly and increase your mileage gradually to avoid injury. And always carry plenty of water and snacks with you on longer runs.


The Characteristics That Make Trail Running Beneficial For Your Mind

Here are four characteristics of trail running that make it great for your mental health: 

Trail running forces you to pay attention.

When you're out on the trails, you have to pay close attention to where you're going. This helps improve your focus and concentration. 

Trail running gets you in touch with nature.

Being in nature has been shown to have a calming effect on the mind. Trail running gives you the opportunity to appreciate the beauty of your surroundings and clear your head.

Trail running is a great workout for your body and mind.

Not only does trail running give you a great workout, but it also helps to improve your mental state. The endorphins released during exercise have been shown to provide a mood boost. 

Trail running can be a social activity.

Running with friends or joining a running group can be a great way to meet new people and socialize. This can help reduce stress and improve your overall mood. 

The Characteristics That Make Trail Running Beneficial For Your Body

Here are four of the ways that trail running can be good for you: 

Trail running can improve your balance and coordination.

If you're used to running on flat, even surfaces, then hitting the trails can be a bit of a shock to your system. Uneven terrain, rocks, and roots all require you to pay close attention to your footing, which can help improve your balance and coordination. 

Trail running can strengthen your stabilizer muscles.

The stabilizer muscles are the small muscles around your joints that help keep them stable during movement. Because trail running often requires you to navigate uneven terrain, your stabilizer muscles have to work a little harder to keep you balanced. This can lead to improved muscle strength and joint stability over time. 

Trail running can increase your cardio fitness.

Running on trails often means navigating hilly terrain, which can give your heart and lungs a good workout. If you're looking to improve your cardiovascular fitness, then hitting the trails could be a great way to do it. 

Trail running can boost your mental well-being.

There's something about being in nature that just has a way of clearing your mind and lifting your spirits. If you're feeling stressed or anxious, spending some time running on trails can help you feel better. Fresh air and exercise are both great for your mental health, so it's no wonder that trail running can be such a mood booster. 

How Much Do You Need To Trail Run To Reap Maximum Benefits

As a general rule, you should aim to do at least 30 minutes of trail running three times per week. This will give you a good base to work from and help improve your overall fitness level.

If you're just starting out, you may want to build up to this gradually. Start with shorter runs and slowly increase the distance as you get more comfortable with the terrain.

Once you've been running for a while, you can start pushing yourself harder on the trails. Interval training, hill repeats, and other advanced techniques can help you take your trail running to the next level. 

No matter how much experience you have, it's always important to listen to your body. If you're feeling tired or run down, take a break or scale back your mileage for a week or two. And if you ever feel pain while running, stop immediately and seek medical attention. 

With a little time and effort, you can find the perfect balance of trail running to maximize the benefits and minimize the risks. So get out there and hit the trails! 

Is Trail Running Better Than Road Running For Your Health?

The debate between trail and road running is one that has been around for a while. Some runners swear by the benefits of trail running, while others remain loyal to the pavement. So, what is the verdict? Is trail running better than road running for your health? 

There are a few key factors to consider when determining which type of running is best for you. First, let’s take a look at the differences between trail and road running. Road running is performed on, well, roads – typically smooth, level surfaces made of asphalt or concrete. Trail running, on the other hand, takes place on natural surfaces like dirt paths, grassy fields, and rocky trails. 

One of the main advantages of trail running is the variety of terrain. This can help to reduce boredom and improve motivation, as you never know what kind of landscape you’ll encounter next. Road running can become quite monotonous in comparison. 

Another benefit of trail running is that it forces you to pay more attention to your surroundings. This can help you to appreciate nature better and even de-stress from the hustle and bustle of daily life. In contrast, road running can sometimes feel like a mindless activity, as you simply stare at the pavement in front of you for miles on end. 

Finally, trail running provides a greater challenge than road running, both mentally and physically. The varied terrain can make trail running more difficult than sticking to the straight and narrow. This can lead to improved concentration and problem-solving skills. And, of course, the physical benefits of trail running are numerous. Running on different types of terrain can help to strengthen your muscles and improve your balance and coordination. 

So, is trail running better than road running for your health? There’s no easy answer. It really depends on your individual goals and preferences. If you’re looking for a more varied workout that will challenge both your body and mind, then trail running may be the way to go. But if you prefer the simplicity of road running, there’s no need to switch things up. Ultimately, the best type of running is the kind that you enjoy and will stick with in the long run. 

Ways To Burn More Calories And Build Muscle On Your Trail Runs

Interval Training

Interval training is a great way to burn more calories and build more muscle on your trail runs. By alternating between periods of high-intensity and low-intensity running, you can maximize your calorie burn and get your muscles working hard. 


Hills are also a great way to challenge your body and burn more calories. When running uphill, your muscles have to work harder to propel you forward, resulting in a greater calorie burn. Additionally, hills can help build lower-body strength, which can improve your overall running performance. 


Adding weight to your runs can also help you burn more calories and build more muscle. Whether it’s wearing a weighted vest or carrying hand weights, the extra resistance will challenge your muscles and help you burn more calories.


Sprints are another great way to boost your calorie burn and build muscle. By running at a maximal effort for short bursts, you can really get your heart rate up and torch some serious calories. Sprint training can also help build explosive power and improve your overall running speed. 

Eat Right

Finally, be sure to eat right if you want to burn more calories and build more muscle on your runs. A healthy diet that’s high in protein and complex carbohydrates will help fuel your runs and support muscle growth. So make sure to Fuel Your Run with the right foods!


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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