Losing weight does not only mean confining yourself to the gym. If you love the outdoors, then you are in luck! Hiking allows you to enjoy nature while burning calories.
There’s a reason why many outdoor enthusiasts are generally fit. The combination of walking, carrying gears and backpacks, and even climbing promotes fitness and health. Backpackers who love going on long hikes are also known to have great stamina.
But how many calories do you burn hiking? In this article, we will explore the health benefits that you enjoy while doing outdoor activities. We will also identify common factors that help you burn more calories.
How Many Calories Do You Burn Hiking?
Hiking is not as intense compared to other outdoor activities such as running or swimming. However, the slow and steady rate that you take while hiking means you can last much longer. On the other hand, running takes about an hour or two.
Even a day of hiking on an easy trail will burn more than running. Hours on your feet can add to the total calories burned. While running burns more calories per hour, hiking is a much more leisurely activity, which means you can last for a few hours up to a day.
For example, a person that weighs around 160 pounds burns around 850 calories when running at 8 miles per hour. On the other hand, if the same person goes on a hike, he would burn around 500 calories per hour. Spending three hours on a trail would burn around 1500 calories.
Here’s an example of calories burned by a male and female with typical weights during a hike. We assume that they are not carrying any gears and the trail is fairly easy with minimal elevation. Additionally, we assume a moderate pace of 4 miles per hour:
|1 hour hiking (calories/hour)||2 hours hiking (total calories)||3 hours hiking (total calories)|
|Male - 160 lbs. (72.5 kg)||454 calories||908 calories||1362 calories|
|Male - 200 lbs. (90.7 kg)||567 calories||1134 calories||1701 calories|
|Female - 130 lbs. (59 kg)||369 calories||738 calories||1107 calories|
|Female - 180 lbs. (81.6 kg)||511 calories||1022 calories||1533 calories|
Additionally, the calories you burn will depend on various factors. The length of your hike, your weight, the terrain, and the weight of your backpack contributes to the overall calorie burn.
Factors That Contribute To The Overall Calorie Burn During Hiking
Hiking is one of the most versatile activities that you can do to lose weight. Aside from the opportunity to explore and travel, you can burn more calories as you adjust various aspects of your hiking. Of course, the more you hike, the more calories you burn. It is especially true if you go on extended hiking trips.
1. Body Weight and Fitness
Just like any physical activity, the bodyweight of a person plays a significant factor in the calories burned. Higher body weight means a person needs to work harder for any activities.
For example, a person who weighs around 130 pounds will burn up to 370 calories per hour of hiking. On the other hand, someone who is about 200 pounds can burn up to 570 calories with the same activity.
Additionally, your fitness level also determines how long you can hike. While fit people burn fewer calories during hikes, that just means the body is adjusting to such physical activity. It is a great opportunity to go on longer hikes or take on more challenging terrains.
2. Length of Hiking
A study in PLOS One showed that hours of outdoor activities would improve your overall mood better than physical activities indoors. The research showed that people who spend a lot of time mountain hiking for hours showed more increase in elation and calmness. This also helped decrease anxiety and fatigue.
Because it improves one’s overall mood, many people are likely to spend more time doing outdoor activities. Hiking is qualified as moderate physical activity. That means, walking leisurely for 10 miles can burn about 900 if you weigh around 180 pounds. You will also burn more calories if you are carrying gears or walking much faster.
3. Gears and Backpack
Much similar to your body weight, the extra weight that you are carrying while on a hike will contribute to how many calories you burn. You will have to do more work and use more calories if you are carrying a heavy backpack.
For example, a typical backpack with essential supplies would weigh around 40 pounds. This will increase the calorie burn to up to 750 calories for a male hiker and around 650 for a female hiker assuming a fairly challenging trail.
Longer hikes will require more gears and supplies. Water will probably be the heaviest supply to pack. As such, extended hikes with a fully-packed backpack will burn more calories. Consequently, it is important to bring along the right backpack to help you manage the weight of your supplies and gears.
4. Type of Terrain
A hiking trip on a mountain will definitely burn more calories than a leisurely walk on the flats. Just like any exercise, the more you increase the intensity of the physical activity, the more you will expend energy.
If you are looking to lose more weight during your hikes, try a rugged trail with significant elevation. You will use around 28 percent more energy on uneven terrains such as steep hills or a forest trail. Your leg muscles, especially your hips and knees, will be harder when you walk on uneven ground.
For instance, hiking on a moderate elevation will burn about 600 calories per hour for a hiker with a weight of 185 pounds. The calories burned will further increase to up to 750 when the same hiker navigates a steep uphill terrain.
5. Intensity of Hike
Increasing your general pace during the hike can also contribute to the total calories burned. If you are able to maintain a vigorous pace throughout your hike, your body increases its metabolism and even keeps burning calories 14 hours after the hike.
For example, if you are about 165 pounds, walking at a speed of 2 mph will burn around 185 calories per hour. If you go faster to about 3.5 miles per hour, you will increase the calories burned to up to 275.
Of course, the terrain and the pack that you are carrying will affect your speed. A general flat terrain is much easier to hike. You can reach around 4 miles an hour on average on this trail. However, an uphill hike may reduce your speed down to about one mile per hour. However, take note that you will be working harder on this trail, so you have the opportunity to burn as many calories (or more) even at a reduced speed.
The number of calories burned during your trip will depend heavily on your weight, fitness level, and the intensity of your activities. Additionally, if you will be covering more miles in one hike, then you have the opportunity to burn more calories. Furthermore, the extra weight that you are carrying and the terrain will have an effect on how much energy your body will use.
Aside from burning calories, hiking, or any outdoor activities will provide great benefits to your overall mental health. Exploring nature will also take your mind off your tiredness, which can encourage you to challenge yourself further.
On the same note, you should always come prepared when taking on challenging trails. Make sure that you have all the gear, such as a multitool. You may also want to bring along a backpacking tent that best fits your needs during the trip.