I bet you know people who think a fitness routine must include working out in a gym. But, for people who love spending time in nature, hiking is a great alternative with the added benefit of a good dose of vitamin D. The question remains, “Is hiking better than the gym?”
5 Reasons Hiking As Exercise Beats The Gym
Hiking is one of the most popular activities on camping trips for good reason!
1. Sunshine: Vitamin D
Some people believe sunlight makes you happier because it increases serotonin levels.
I don’t know the scientific reason, but, I do know sunshine makes me happy! I also know, the more I enjoy an activity, the more I want to do it. So, if your hiking routine is designed to replace a not-so-enjoyable workout at the gym, one of the best hiking tips for beginners is to determine what part of hiking excites you and do more of that.
It might be a specific location/scenery or it might be that you appreciate seeing new landscapes and new destinations. Create a plan that you love and you will stick with it!
SUNSHINE!!! With so many people staring at computer screens for the majority of their lives, it’s a great excuse to break that pattern with actual, real, natural light. Vitamin D is good for your bones too. Don’t forget to wear your high SPF sweatproof sunblock so you are only getting the good stuff.
2. Scenery: Endurance
When working out, some distraction could be a benefit. Lots of people pick up a smartphone, read a book or watch TV while in the gym. Personally, I’d rather experience nature while day hiking in the mountains for my exercise.
The combination of hiking and views improves mental health and builds endurance. Trekking on uneven terrain, going up and downhills provides a form of cardio workout that is good for your heart and lungs.
For comparison generally speaking,
- walking burns about 100 calories per mile,
- hiking burns about 200 calories per mile, and,
- if you add a heavy pack on a trail with steep elevation gain you can burn about 500 calories per mile.
For any exercise program to be sustainable and successful, you need to make it fun and avoid injuries. One of my top hiking gear tips is to use hiking poles for stability and balance.
Make sure you invest in a good set of hiking boots too. They can take your hikes to the next level if they are waterproof and have ample support to avoid blisters.
3. Dogs Allowed: Well-Being For Both Of You
Come on Fido … let’s hit the trail! There are not many forms of exercise that allow you to include your dog. We all love our pets and they need exercise too.
If you want to improve your mood, take your dog hiking. They can often keep (or exceed) the pace you set and they’ll keep you motivated. The health benefits of hiking are good for both of you.
Don’t forget the water and trail food to keep you and your dog’s energy and hydration levels safe. For the humans on our hike, we bring hydration packs with lots of water as well as dry fruit and nut trail mix, tuna packs (for lots of protein) and easy-to-eat fresh fruit like oranges and apples.
Do you have quality time with your dog? Hiking as exercise is a great way to keep you both smiling! Just remember, don’t get dehydrated. Bring plenty of water for you and your dog. If you use a Dog Travel Water Bowl, it makes it easier for your dog to drink normally. Once the bowl pops open, it stays open without the sides flopping in. It is lightweight and conveniently clips to a belt loop too.
4. Fresh Air: Avoid Anxiety
Just like any physical activity, the benefits of hiking resulting in weight loss has a lot to do with how often you hike, length of your hike and how strenuous your journey.
Odds are, if you are not sweating and getting your heart rate elevated for a portion of your hike, the weight loss benefit may be non-existent. So, make sure you sweat a bit on your hikes if you want to drop a few pounds in the process.
The fresh air you enjoy during your hike will take your mind off the sweaty, workout and will improve your mindset.
5. Family Friendly Fun: Combat Depression
You’ve probably heard the saying, “The family that plays together, stays together!” We love hiking together as a family! Plus, the psychological, mental, social and emotional benefits of hiking as a family are enormous.
Hiking creates good quality time to bond together through experiencing nature and getting a workout all at the same time! You may need to join other hikers who are at your level if you’re doing high-intensity workouts but do lower intensity hikes with family and friends who are less physically fit.
If you take the “work” out of workout, you are more likely to stick with it. Being a healthy family is awesome so why not make the journey enjoyable every step of the way? Tracking progress with a fitness band is something that helps keep the enthusiasm high when the entire family is going hiking as exercise together.
Plan Your Camping Activities With A FREE Trip Planner
Make your next trip stress-free with a little pre-planning. Get your copy of our FREE printable camping trip planner template!