Could hiking be the number one activity for all your fitness goals?
What exactly is hiking?
Hiking might make you think of people striding up steep, unfriendly terrain whilst carrying loads of kit. But hiking is actually just another name for walking – although it’s not the same as going for a walk around your local streets.
Hiking is defined as walking in nature as a recreational activity. It’s a form of exercise that combines walking, exploring, and spending time in nature. Hiking can build muscle, burn calories, boost heart health, and even improve cognitive function. Sounds like the perfect choice of fitness if you ask us!
Is hiking the same as hill walking or rucking
Hiking is similar to hill walking and rucking but there are some differences. Hiking is any kind of walk in nature. Hill walking, as the name suggests, focuses on seeking out hilly terrain so you can walk up (and down) hills of varying incline. And rucking is defined as long-distance walking carrying a weighted pack.
Is hiking good for fitness
Can hiking really be great for all fitness goals? We think so! Of course if you have a super-specific fitness goal like getting shredded to stand on a bodybuilding stage, or training to cycle from Land’s End to John O’Groats then you’ll need to train specifically for those goals.
But if your fitness goal is losing a bit of weight, getting generally fit, or building strength and muscle then hiking can help you do it all. Hiking can be as long or vigorous as you want it to be, making it the ideal choice of cardio workout that will also train muscular endurance.
What are the benefits of hiking
Hiking is great leg training
Hiking works your leg muscles from all angles, especially if you vary the terrain and seek out some inclines. Hiking is like doing single legged work or steps ups over and over again. You can expect to feel the effects of a hike in your glutes, hips, quads, hamstrings, and calves.
Hiking builds a strong core
Hiking in nature means your core needs to work hard to stabilise your upper body. Great news for your abs, obliques, deep core muscles and lower back. You’ll get even more of a core workout if you carry a weighted pack or ruckpack.
Hiking gets you fit
Hiking is a great way to build a solid base of cardiovascular fitness. It will raise your heart rate and keep it as a sustainable level so you can keep going for hours – much longer than if you were running or using cardio equipment at the gym.
Hiking as cross training
If hiking isn’t your main sport, use it as cross training. It’s a great way to keep active on non-training days as you use different muscles and get outside for a change of scene.
Hiking increases your calorie burn
Whether you want to lose some weight or just stay on top of your weight management, it’s important to pay attention to your daily activity levels. The calories you burn through NEAT (everything outside of formal workouts) counts for the majority of your calorie expenditure. Hiking is an amazing way to increase your step count, NEAT, and total calories burned.
Hiking is fun informal fitness
Exercise doesn’t have to mean rigid rules and formal workout sessions. Hiking is a great way to remove the formality from fitness, making it a more relaxed, fun way to get more physical activity into your week.
Hiking is addictive
Ever felt like you can’t be bothered to go to the gym? That won’t happen with hiking. With a never-ending array of scenery, views, and nature to explore, every hike is different. Your brain will associate hiking with endorphins, making it easy for you to get outside and move your body.
How to start getting into hiking
There are no rules about when, where, or how long you need to hike for. Any walk in nature counts as a hike. Get started by finding trails or footpaths that are easy to get to.
Make sure you’ve got the essentials:
- Decent walking shoes and socks
- Suitable clothing
- Map or navigation apps on your phone
- Spare charger and battery for your phone
- Sunscreen and bug spray
- Water and snacks
Be sure to tell someone where you’re going and roughly when you’ll be back. Or better still, get a friend or two to go with you. Hiking is a really social, fun way to do fitness with friends.
Best backpacks for hiking in the UK
Do you need a hiking rucksack or backpack? Check out our range of top-quality rucksacks and backpacks that are built for outdoor adventures like hiking. They withstand any weather and all conditions!