Hiking and running are both great forms of exercise, both better than sitting on the couch. But what are the specific benefits of each? Which fitness goals can be achieved by these activities? Which is more likely to be a positive experience for you?
is a less vigorous aerobic activity which is enjoyed by young and old. It can be done anywhere and doesn’t require too much preparation or expensive gear for easy trails. You will burn an average of 650 calories per hour of hiking, depending on the difficulty of the trail, the weight you’re carrying, your own body weight and other factors. Uphill hiking is an excellent exercise for effective weight loss. Also, hiking has less risk of injuries than running.
is a more vigorous cardio exercise than hiking, with the potential to burn up to 1,300 calories per hour depending on your running intensity and pace and your personal body weight. Running causes an increase of the heart rate of an average of 70-85% of the maximum. Engaging in running for 90 minutes per week will lead to improvement in your health and overall wellbeing.
Although hiking is slower than running, it is not necessarily less intensive. If you hike on an elevated trail with a heavy backpack you will get the same intensity as you would if you run at a moderate pace on an even terrain.
Both hiking and running will have a positive effect on your bone density, although in general running causes a heavier load and impact on the joints than hiking.
How your goals and desired experiences influence your activity choice
So, both running and hiking have a positive effect on your body, weight loss and wellbeing, so choosing between the two should be determined by your mood and of course the purpose you are doing it for.
If your goal is improving your fitness level, hiking may be a better option. True, you will burn fewer calories per hour than by running, but hiking usually involves longer trails than running, which means more hours of calorie-burning.
For reducing the risk of injuries, you should pick hiking. Of course, hiking has its risks, especially if you are walking on slippery and uneven terrain and are wearing inappropriate hiking shoes. It is extremely important to wear appropriate shoes for your activity and for your feet issues (if any). For example, if you have bunions you should pick shoes like these from Runabees, which are wider in the toe area to avoid additional friction. If you have flat feet or high arches, then again look for shoes that are specifically for your foot type. Ask your podiatrist to determine your foot type or make this simple wet test at home. Remember, wearing appropriate footwear is what makes the difference between healthy feet and bad injuries.
If you are looking for an adventure, you should definitely go hiking. Exploring different trails will let you see and enjoy some amazing natural views and experiences. Not to say that you cannot run in beautiful spots, but running requires more concentration, so you are less likely to be able to enjoy the beautiful settings around you.
If you have planned a picnic for the day, then hiking is the better choice. You can stop midway on the trail and enjoy a snack, unlike with running.
If you are looking for quick endorphins, then running is the best activity for you. The euphoric endorphin rushes during and after a good run cannot be compared to anything else.
Great comparison of the benefits between two enjoyable forms of exercise! One caveat, though: most people tend to overestimate how many exercise calories they’re burning, and underestimate how many they’re eating. It’s way too easy to say, “Hey, great, I did a run (or a hike) for an hour — let’s celebrate by dropping by KFC on the way home!”
What works best for me now is to *underestimate* the exercise calories and *overestimate* the food calories. Whatever calorie number you come up with for your exercise, divide it in half. For food calories, estimate *up.* That’ll help tilt the odds in your favor. 🙂