Hiking and running are the two most popular outdoor workouts, and seem not to fade anytime soon. Both of these cardio exercises have tons of health benefits. They are also fun, refreshing, and suitable for people of all ages. Besides, when both are parts of a fitness plan, they get muscles working, fat burning and heart pumping. These are the three main things a workout can achieve. But when it comes to hiking vs running, which burns more calories faster? Let’s look at the benefits of these two physical activities and determine which one burns more calories.
Hiking vs running for weight loss
When a person is torn between these two exercises, they ask if you burn more calories running or hiking? Before we consider exercise effectiveness running vs hiking, it’s crucial to remember that to lose weight, you have to burn more calories than those you consume. Otherwise, the unused calories will be converted to fat.
Creating a calorie deficit requires the individual to perform physical activities that will cause the body to metabolize fat into energy. This means to lose weight, the calories consumed via diet have to be fewer than those you burn daily. Since the number of recommended calories per day depends on activity level, gender and age, always consult a professional before embarking on a weight loss journey (3).
People who are thinking of starting hiking as a tool for weight loss may have questions such as is hiking good exercise or is hiking cardio? For starters, there are such types as backpacking, summit and long-distance hiking.
Whichever you prefer, if you weigh 125 pounds and go for a 30-minute across country hike, you will burn 180 calories which is slightly more as compared to a person of the same weight opting to choose walking or even dancing as a form of physical exercise (1).
Furthermore, hiking burns 266 calories and 223 calories for people who weigh 155 and even 185 pounds respectively. Further research shows that a person who weighs 154 lb and hikes for an hour burns 370 calories which is almost twice the number as compared to the same individual hiking for 30 minutes (5).
Based on this data, it’s clear that a person who weighs more will burn more calories hiking for less than an hour than a lighter person. As a result, hiking for several hours will yield more results for weight loss. Besides, the amount of weight shed off is more intense when doing backpacking on steep terrain as compared to a flat path.
In terms of overall health benefits, why is hiking considered to be a complete lower body workout?
It helps you to manage your weight better and boasts of having an amazing cardio workout that builds strength in various muscles, enhances balance, mood and strengthens the core (4). Hiking is alsoa full body workout engaging various muscles:
- Inner and outer thighs
- Lower back
- Hip flexors
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You can opt to run at a light, moderate and vigorous pace and you’ll still reap the benefits needed for weight loss. Running at a slow speed of around 5 mph or doing marathon wheeling burns 355 calories for a person weighing 185 pounds (1).
On the other hand, moderate running for 7.5 mph, or 8 minutes per mile burns 555 calories. If you have the same weight and engage in vigorous running for 6 minutes per mile or 10 mph, you’ll burn 733 calories. However, you will burn 590 calories if you run for one hour with a weight of 154 lb (5).
Is running in place the same as running?
Since it’s not always possible to run outdoors, running in place becomes the best option to lose extra pounds. Some people might prefer to run around the house. However, a treadmill often provides more calorie burn and ensures you can track your progress and reach a certain level of intensity.
In terms of weight loss is swimming better than running?
With a weight of 185 pounds and using the front crawl or butterfly swimming technique, you’ll burn 488 calories. But if a person who weighs 154 lb swims at a slower pace for one hour using the freestyle, they will lose 510 calories.
So in terms of weight loss, running is better activity than swimming and even hiking. But only as long as you’re doing it at 10 mph which burns 733 calories in 30 minutes. However, hikers can also burn more calories by trekking for more hours, taking the elevated trails or those challenging the body to exert itself a notch more.
So, before settling for hiking, swimming, running or bicycling, consider the frequency, time spans and the intensity involved. That way, you will be able to accurately estimate how many calories you’ll burn. When in doubt, ask an expert. Overall, since these three activities burn fat, they contribute to weight loss as long as they are combined with a healthy diet
Running vs hiking vs bicycling
While a 185 pound person hiking cross country will burn 266 calories, running 6 minutes per mile and bicycling for more than 20 miles per hour yields the same results in that it burns 733 calories.
Hiking vs running cardio
Does running and hiking count as cardio? As mentioned earlier, both of these aerobic exercises are great cardio workouts as they raise the heart rate. Hiking is a moderate intensity workout while running is high intensity.
When done in a rough terrain and elevation changes, these two workouts will ensure you reap the cardio benefits. However, compared to hiking on a flat surface, running has a better chance of spiking the heart rate.
If you prefer hiking, opt for hilly and rugged trails. In such situations, it’s best to carry trekking poles. They will provide balance, increase speed and enhance body movement.
Running faster makes you burn more calories. Then it gets a better cardio workout than hiking. However, it increases your chances of getting an injury, especially if you push yourself too hard. Shin splints are common occurrences in long-distance runners and people who increase their running days too fast (2).
Achilles tendinitis is another issue onger distance might cause. However, talking to an expert will help you plan your workout and prevent exercise-related injuries.
When it comes to hiking vs running, both coupled with a well-rounded diet are perfect for blasting away excess calories. Each has its own unique health benefits; therefore, you’ll reap the advantages if you include both activities in your workout plan. However, before settling on either of the two, take time and consult an expert. They will help you select what is better for your overall health, weight loss goals, time and lifestyle.
For those cases when you cannot do some cardio outside, take your time to exercise your body indoors. Check out this 20 Minute Full Body Workout at Home.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- Calories burned in 30 minutes for people of three different weights (2018, health.harvard.edu)
- 10 Common Running Injuries: Prevention and Treatment (2018, webmd.com)
- Counting calories for weight loss (2017, medicalnewstoday.com)
- How Hiking Is Good for Body and Mind (2013, webmd.com)
- Physical Activity for a Healthy Weight (2015, cdc.gov)