The sound of nature and the rugged terrains beneath our feet, along with a breathtaking view at the summit, makes hiking both an enjoyable experience and a way to get in touch with ourselves, appreciate nature, and find a momentary slice of peace. But more than the beauty and serenity mountains give, hiking delivers several health benefits, like burning calories. So how many calories do you burn hiking up a mountain?
The Calories Burned Hiking a Mountain
Hiking on a mountain is a highly aerobic exercise. The consistency of incline change challenges your muscles and increases your heart rate. Several factors come into play in relation to the calories burned when hiking. Let's break down each.
The truth is having better bone density and healthy weight distribution contributes to better calorie burn without losing too much energy. In contrast, more body fat and poorer density contributes to getting fatigued faster. So it'll be more difficult to finish the hike without several rests in between the trails.
Hiking calorie burn depends also on our body weight. For example, if you weigh 200 pounds, you will roughly burn 540 calories in a one-hour hike. Similarly, a 150-pound individual may burn approximately 405 calories at the same time. However, there are also other factors to consider that contribute to calorie burn, like walking pace, distance, and duration.
Clothing and Pack Weight
Just like lifting weights at the gym, the backpack weight we carry during a hike can significantly increase our caloric burn.
A heavier backpack means having more weight to manage. However, we climb a mountain to feel good and avoid an injury. So we must also remember that the body can carry only up to 10% of our body weight. It's bad for the back to be fully loaded.
Interestingly, what we wear on a hike, including our footwear, also plays a significant role in our movement which influences our calorie burn.
Heavier clothing can drag weight and slow you down. Skintight clothing with moisture-wicking properties lets you move freely because it's lightweight while giving enough support for the body and protection from the elements. So it's important that we choose the appropriate outdoor wear for our adventure.
While you may not be at the ideal fitness level at the start of your first hike, your goal should be to improve it with each hike you do.
Having a more ideal fitness level lets you challenge yourself to conquer more rugged and difficult terrains with higher inclines.
How fast or slow you hike contributes to your caloric burn.
On average, hiking at 3 miles per hour burns about 300 calories. As such, when you increase your hiking speed to 4 miles per hour, you get to burn around 400 calories per hour. This means that adding an extra mile per hour in relation to your hiking speed adds to burning an extra 100 calories.
Congratulations on wanting to conquer a mountain! You're on your way to bettering your fitness level and burning calories by hiking on different terrains.
The terrain and the difficulty level of a hiking trail play a significant role in the calories you burn.
Flat surfaces or an easy trail means you'll burn fewer calories because there's not much challenge to work up your body.
But when you choose hillier, steeper, and moderately rugged terrains or trails, the number of calories you'll burn per hour can significantly increase.
Along with your choice of terrains are the inclines that a trail has.
A more inclined terrain contributes to burning more calories than flat ones.
By incorporating incline intervals into your hike, you increase the level of difficulty of the climb, thereby contributing to a higher calorie burn.
To prepare your body to better manage inclined terrains, increase the incline levels when working out on a treadmill if you can't train outside on uphill roads and surfaces.
Hiking at a much faster pace not only lets you reach the mountain summit faster and enjoy the view, but it also lets you burn more calories.
To illustrate, if you weight 200 pounds, you can burn roughly 600+ calories when hiking at a fast pace. At that same weight, only around 400+ calories are burned when doing a cross-country.
Is hiking a good way to lose weight?
Yes, hiking is one of the best ways to lose weight at a relatively more affordable price compared to taking on a sport.
Beyond burning calories, hiking also lets you reap the following benefits:
It builds strength.
Yes, hiking is a cardio workout. But even cardio workouts help us build strength, When hiking, we mostly our glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings, and other muscles in the hips and lower legs. Thus, hiking helps increase muscle mass which then leads to a higher metabolism rate and helps increase the number of calories you burn even when at rest.
It improves balance.
It's not only yoga or other types of exercise that help improve balance. Hiking on uneven terrains and navigating through rocks and roots help improve our sense of balance and stability. Having good balance contributes to our overall fitness and prevention of injuries.
It develops endurance.
Because hiking is an aerobic activity, it helps improve our cardiovascular fitness and muscular endurance when done regularly. When our endurance levels increase, we'll be able to hike for longer periods at higher intensities, thereby burning more calories.
It boosts mood.
Bid farewell to stress and anxiety by hiking regularly.
Spending time in the great outdoors helps us be one with nature. Who wouldn't appreciate the beauty of sunrise or the different colors of forest foliage? Such a boost in mood indirectly supports weight loss, maintaining a consistent exercise routine, and making healthier food choices.
Hiking is an effective means to burn calories and help with weight loss. But it's not the sole means to achieve such goals. Mindful eating and maintaining an active lifestyle contribute to better well-being and healthier body built and weight.
Embrace the Beauty of the Great Outdoors
While hiking lets us burn calories, connecting with ourselves and nature, and discovering peace on an off-beaten path might be the key to living a happy life.
So grab your outdoor gear, a nutrient-dense trail mix, and your friends or SO for an awesome adventure to the mountains.