Both hiking and walking are great exercises that provide physical and mental health benefits and aid in weight loss. But, what is the difference between these two, and what are the benefits of each activity? Is one better than the other? Let us take a closer look!
The difference between hiking and walking is that walking is a term that describes a daily activity done for short distances, while hiking describes long walks done for pleasure on trails, and sometimes, over multiple days, in which case they are called backpacking.
Choosing the right footwear for your hike is very important. Wearing the wrong footwear could lead to sore feet and blisters which will prevent you from enjoying your hike to the fullest. Lucky for you, we have a list of the best hiking shoes for men, women, and children all in one article.
Walking consists of traveling using your feet as a mode of transportation while constantly staying in contact with the ground. There is no minimum distance for this activity. It can be as long as a hundred miles or as short as a few feet. A walk can be done as exercise or out of necessity, and usually in an urban setting, through the woods, or along the beach.
Benefits of Walking
Walking can tone your legs, abdominal muscles, and even your arms if you do pumps as you walk.
Walking can bring the heart rate up, strengthen it, and lower blood pressure. It is a low-impact activity that can ward off heart diseases.
Those with osteoporosis can walk to stop the loss of bone mass. This activity can also ease joint pain and help protect your knees and hips.
Walking can also lighten your mood by releasing natural pain-killing endorphins.
Just 30 minutes or an hour of walking in the morning can improve your sleep.
Lowers Blood Sugar
Fifteen minutes of walking three times a day, after every meal, can improve blood sugar levels more than taking an hour walk at one point in the day.
Walking for 30 to 45 minutes per day can decrease the risks of getting sick and contracting upper respiratory tract infections by up to 43%.
According to the British Journal of Sports Medicine, fast-paced walking can extend your lifespan. Brisk walking can reduce your risks of overall death by 24%.
Since walking can help clear your mind, it can also help you think creatively. Walking can open up a stream of ideas and increase creativity while also getting exercise.
If you are looking to shed calories and maintain or lose weight, walking can help you achieve this. Walking is indeed an inexpensive way to lose or maintain weight and improve your health.If you are wondering how many calories you can burn while walking, read along.
Calories Burned from Walking
The calories you can burn from walking depend on four factors:
- Your speed,
- The distance,
- The terrain, and
- Your body weight.
|Weight||2.0 mph||2.5 mph||3.0 mph||3.5 mph||4.0 mph|
|130 lbs.||148 cal.||177 cal.||195 cal.||224 cal.||295 cal.|
|155 lbs.||176 cal.||211 cal.||232 cal.||267 cal.||352 cal.|
|180 lbs.||245 cal.||245 cal.||270 cal.||311 cal.||409 cal.|
|205 lbs.||233 cal.||279 cal.||307 cal.||354 cal.||465 cal.|
The calculations are based on one hour of walking on a flat surface. Walking for an hour on an uphill terrain can increase the calories burned dramatically.
|Weight||3.5 mph (Flat Surface)||3.5 mph (Uphill)|
|130 lbs.||224 cal.||354 cal.|
|155 lbs.||267 cal.||422 cal.|
|180 lbs.||311 cal.||490 cal.|
|205 lbs.||354 cal.||558 cal.|
Can you lose weight by just walking more?
While hiking is better for losing weight, walking is a lower impact and inexpensive activity that can still help you lose weight and belly fat, as well as provide you with other health benefits, including improved mood and lower risks of diseases. Walking one mile can already help you burn 100 to 450 calories per hour depending on the incline, your speed, and weight.
Which walk is best for weight loss?
Brisk walking is the best activity for you can if you want to lose weight by just walking. According to a study, walking is an effective exercise that can aid in weight loss. However, you have to increase your pace and implement the following tips to lose significant weight from walking.
- Increase your pace or walk briskly to burn more calories.
- Wear a weighted vest, if you can, to encourage your body to work harder while walking.
- Walk uphill to help increase calorie burn. Use walking sticks if you have knee problems.
- Focus on your form and posture and tighten your core and glute muscles.
- Include some resistance training in intervals, like squats, pushups, burpees, triceps dips, and lunges.
- Power walk in intervals. Do a 5 to 10 minutes warmup and increase your pace.
- Go on short walks three times a day, after each meal, to help control your blood sugar levels.
- Aim for more steps each day. Instead of taking the elevator, go for the stairs, park further away from your destination, walk while on breaks, and walk to your destination, if possible.
- Adopt a healthy lifestyle. Doing this will help you lose more weight and have a more positive outlook toward life.
- Before applying the above tips, talk to your doctor to avoid injuries and other complications.
Hiking is a recreational activity that involves walking in nature across long distances and in moderately difficult terrains in the countryside, trails, and footpaths through the woods. It can also be a term to describe a lot of hiking activities, including backpacking, nature walks, and trekking.
Benefits of Hiking
Good for the heart
Even just light hiking can raise the heart rate to a moderate level that contributes to the improvement of your aerobic fitness and endurance. Over time, your body will adjust to new fitness levels and allow you to hike faster, harder, and for long periods without feeling as fatigued or out of breath as the first time.
As you hike, your core and leg muscles are constantly contracting and engaging to provide balance and stability over uneven terrains. Balance improves as these stabilizing muscles strengthen over time and also helps with the increase of proprioception. Furthermore, as we get older, we must keep working on our balance to prevent falls. Overall, hiking is a fun activity to improve balance while also spending time outdoors.
Hiking also strengthens other muscles, including the arms and back. In fact, hiking is a great activity for almost every major muscle group in the body. Walking uphill engages the quads, calves, hamstrings, and glutes, while hiking downhill engages the core, hips, and ankles. Back and arm muscles can also be strengthened when you hike using trekking poles or when carrying a moderate to heavy pack.
Increases Bone Density
High bone density is important to be able to prevent broken bones and reduce the risks for osteoporosis. Weight-bearing and high-impact activities, like hiking, can help improve bone density as they strengthen the bone tissue. But for this activity to effectively increase your bone density, it needs to be performed at a moderate to high level.
Eases Stress and Boosts Mental Well-being
A lot of research supports the notion that connecting with nature can improve one’s mental health and well-being. Whether we are taking in the spectacular view of a sunset or just gazing out at a flower field, these experiences or the feeling of being impressed by nature can make us feel happier and less stressed.
Unplug from Technology
Living life through our phones and social media can result in anxiety, an unhealthy comparison to others, not to mention it takes a lot of our time. Social media and other apps are designed to be addictive. That is why it is important to keep things balanced and unplug from technology once in a while. Turn off your gadgets, go for a hike, and enjoy the opportunity to live in the moment. It is best to disconnect from the pressure and negativity that we sometimes feel when we are scrolling our social media feeds.
Doing hard activities might not feel great in the moment, but how good do you feel afterward? When you challenge yourself, you feel a sense of accomplishment that can lead to improved self-esteem. Hiking can therefore lead to a more confident feeling. It can make you feel stronger, independent, more capable, and ready for another day.
Hiking can help improve sleep patterns and relieve insomnia. This advantage may have to do with this activity’s ability to stabilize our mood and decompress our minds, resulting in a more relaxed mind and body. Exposure to sunlight, especially early in the morning is crucial to producing melatonin—the sleep hormone.
Improves Brain Function and Memory
An increase in blood flow can improve one’s overall memory and cognitive functions, and hiking can significantly improve blood flow to the brain due to the increase in oxygen.
Helps with Weight Loss
If you want to lose weight, hiking is a great activity to do so. The amount of calories you will burn during a hike depends on several factors, like the aerobic intensity and your weight. But if you are just starting out, light hiking can still result in gradual weight loss. For adults, the recommended physical activity is at least 2.5 hours per week. If your goal is to lose weight, starting with just 3 x 50-minute hikes per week on a local trail can help.
Hiking is a recreational activity wherein you take a walk in nature. It is an exercise that promotes physical fitness and it is also widely recommended as a form of physical training for many athletes. Hiking provides many physical and mental health benefits, but is it good to hike every day? Read our article to learn more.
Calories Burned from Hiking
How many calories can you burn while hiking? Read along to find out.
The chart below is an estimation of the calories you can burn per hour of hiking, based on your weight and the trail’s grade, where 1-5% is mild and 6-15% represents a medium to steep range.
|Weight||1-5% grade||6-15% grade|
|120 lbs.||292 cal.||440 cal.|
|150 lbs.||360 cal.||544 cal.|
|180 lbs.||435 cal.||656 cal.|
|210 lbs.||504 cal.||760 cal.|
|240 lbs.||578 cal.||872 cal.|
|270 lbs.||652 cal.||984 cal.|
Hiking vs. Walking: Which activity is better for burning calories?
|Weight||Hiking at 1-5%
|Walking (Moderate Pace)||Brisk Walking
|120 lbs.||292 cal.||193 cal.||275 cal.|
|150 lbs.||360 cal.||238 cal.||340 cal.|
|180 lbs.||435 cal.||287 cal.||451 cal.|
|210 lbs.||504 cal.||333 cal.||475 cal.|
|240 lbs.||578 cal.||382 cal.||545 cal.|
|270 lbs.||652 cal.||431 cal.||615 cal.|
With this, we can say that hiking is better at burning calories than walking as hiking in the mountains provides steeper trails and uneven paths. Even when brisk walking, hiking can still burn more calories. However, you have to consider other factors, like the temperature, terrain, your weight, age, and fitness level.
You can calculate how many calories you can burn in an hour of hiking by using the Metabolic Equivalent Formula (MET):
MET (6) * weight (kg) * time (hrs) = calories burned
Hiking has a value of 6 to 7 on the MET Table, while walking at a slow pace has a value of 2, and 3.5 at a brisk pace.
For example, if you weigh 150 lbs. (68 kg) and hike for an hour, you can expect to burn 408 calories.
Here’s the breakdown:
While this formula does not take into account the other factors, like the terrain, fitness level, and others, it can still provide a decent estimate.
Generally, you can burn more calories while hiking at a moderate pace than walking at a moderate pace. And you can burn as many calories with a brisk walk as you would hiking at a moderate pace.
Is hiking or walking better for weight loss?
Looking at the charts above, we can say that hiking is better than walking in terms of shedding weight since it burns more calories and can significantly contribute to weight loss or maintenance. Hiking is a full-body workout that can help you get stronger, have more toned muscles, and is also good for your heart and lungs.
Although walking is cheaper, if you are looking to burn more calories, you can save up on good hiking boots and other essentials to make your hiking experience more satisfying.
Hiking and walking may seem like the same activity, but they are different from each other. They do have a lot of similarities, one of which is their benefits to a person’s physical and mental health.
Hiking and walking are both good forms of exercise especially for beginners. If you’re aiming to lose weight, you’ll be able to burn more calories by hiking. But, if you can’t spare some time to go visit some hiking trails, you can opt to just walk around your neighborhood instead.