You have struggle all your life carrying around those extra unwanted pounds and nothing that you have tried seems to work. Well, here’s some good news for you in one word, “hiking.” You may ask, “what’s so special about hiking?” Hiking affects your entire being. In addition to experiencing the beauty of nature, breathing in


clean, fresh, air, and observing birds and other creatures that you may have never seen before, hiking is a full-body workout.  Truth be told, there are few exercise programs that can rival the weight-loss benefits of hiking.

Hiking is different from working out in the gym in that it exposes you to the wonders of the great outdoors, while a workout in the gym is closed in, with lots of people, and no scenery. Hiking is different from walking in that it takes you through various


terrains, hills, valleys, mountains, and sometimes even through streams, depending on the hiking trail you choose. Furthermore, hiking can be relatively inexpensive. There are no dues to pay and your major expense is probably a great pair of hiking boots. So, here are some more benefits to hiking:


First of all, hiking burns much more calories than a walking, and if you previously stuck to walks around the neighborhood for exercise, you are likely to see a pronounced increase in weight loss. A 175-pound person who hikes for two hours can burn 1,100 calories, provided the terrain is hilly. If the same person spends two

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hours walking on flat terrain, he/she will burn approximately 500 calories. Over the course of a week, if you hike for a total of six hours, you will lose 1/2 pound more than the walker.

A 175-pound person who hikes three times a week for two hours each outing is likely to lose approximately 1 pound per week if the calories consumed are the number required to maintain weight. Keep in mind that you may lose less if you weigh less or more if your weight is higher. To increase weight loss, do a couple of


long hikes every month. Consider backpacking, which burns even more calories due to the extra weight you are carrying. You can have a lot of fun hiking to a remote camping spot and hiking out the next day — burning plenty of calories the entire time. One thing is certain, if you eat the appropriate number of calories for your height, age and gender while hiking on a regular basis, you’ll start to see your extra pounds disappear.


Hiking (and any type of exercise) releases the adrenaline built up in your body from a stressful work week, reducing stress and anxiety. Consider the following statistics on stress:

  1. Forty-three percent of all adults suffer adverse health effects from stress.

  2. Seventy-five percent to 90% of all doctor’s office visits are for stress-related ailments and complaints.

  3. Stress can play a part in problems such as headaches, high blood pressure, heart problems, diabetes, skin conditions, asthma, arthritis, depression, and anxiety.

  4. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) declared stress a hazard of the workplace. Stress costs American industry more than $300 billion annually.

  5. The lifetime prevalence of an emotional disorder is more than 50%, often due to chronic, untreated stress reactions.[1]


Hiking can increase the density of your bones, preventing osteoporosis and even effectively reversing the effects of osteoporosis. Why do health experts recommend

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exercise for osteoporosis? When you exercise, you don’t just build muscle and endurance. You also build and maintain the amount and thickness of your bones. You may hear health professionals call this “bone mass and density.” Three types of exercise for osteoporosis are:




All three types of exercise for osteoporosis are needed to build healthy bones.[2] Hiking effectively qualify for all three types of exercise.


Hiking is a powerful cardio workout that can lower your risk of heart disease, improve your blood pressure and blood sugar levels. Those that are active for more than 7 hours a week have a 40 percent lower risk of dying early than someone active for just 30 minutes per week. Walking and hiking will keep your cardiorespiratory system healthy, and will give your muscles more endurance. If you are at risk for heart disease, always check with your doctor before beginning any exercise routine.

Start your hiking slowly and at a pace that you are comfortable with. A short, local hike is best for beginners. Gradually work up to trails with hills or uneven terrain. Use poles. Digging into the ground and propelling yourself forward pushes your upper body muscles to work harder and gives you a stronger cardio workout.

Work inclines in slowly: Even a small hill will intensify your heart rate and burn extra calories. Miller says a 5% to 10% incline equals a 30% to 40% increase in calorie burn. Uneven terrain can work muscles while improving balance and stability. Include a backpack on your hike. Stock your day pack with extra weight. (Water’s a

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good option.) According to Miller, a 10- to 15-pound day pack will boost your calorie burn by 10% to 15% while strengthening your lower back muscles. On the days you can’t make it to the trails, power-walk on a hilly terrain while carrying various degrees of weight in a backpack — it will keep your hiking skills and fitness level on track


Hiking and any regular exercise can boost mood short term and long term. Just think about how good you feel when you finish a workout. There is an overall feeling of wellness and accomplishment.  You should take a least 5 minutes after every workout to just soak in that feeling. It helps condition you body to look forward to working out.

Also, try to make a goal for each workout. That stimulates the “reward” chemical dopamine, improving motivation and mood. Any exercise is good, but the best are ones that really rev up the heart rate – like interval training.  Even if you are not feeling it, FORCE yourself to at least take a walk around the block. You will feel better. Starting is always the hardest part.

Sunshine is another one of the most natural mood enhancers. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a condition that occurs in people who live in place that are overcast or in northern latitudes in winter months when the sun seldom shows it lovely face. Make sure you get as much natural light as you can – at least 15 minutes every day. Hiking is a great way to get the much needed sunshine.


Hiking strengthens the core muscles of the body, which comprises of the abs, sides, back, the muscles above the ribs and chest, and the shoulders. Core muscles are always engaged in our movements, and act as stabilizers of the movement’s force, or initiators of any new effort. Hiking makes the core muscles of the body participate in different movements for a long stretch of time, helping them gain strength and flexibility.

Hiking is a great way to improve balance, especially for those who are aging, as balance tends to reduce with age. By engaging the lower body through a rigorous hike, both the body and the mind work together as they try to figure out the right places to step on, and the dangerous spots to avoid.

Hiking can also help with:

Lowering blood sugar levels

Lessening risk of high cholesterol

Lowering risk of colon and breast cancer

Healthy functioning of the lungs

Improving the quality of sleep

Furthermore, hiking is not just limited to these physical and mental benefits, but hiking also comes with a full spectrum of sensory experiences giving a variety of stimuli to the eyes, ears, skin, and nose. With the changing landscape, varying

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temperatures, and a variety of smells and sounds, this activity can also act as a facilitator of human creativity and imagination. So, go take a hike!

[1] WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Jennifer Robinson, MD on December 10, 2017

[2] WebMD Medical Reference archives accessed August  28th 2018


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