One thing many people wonder about is if they need to be in amazing shape prior to starting to hike. When they find out that isn't needed the overweight hikers ask the next most common question, does hiking reduce belly fat then?
Hiking is an amazing belly fat and overall body fat loss tool as it typically requires an amazing amount of energy burn that is almost impossible to match by eating foods that can simply be carried while hiking, this leads to a large caloric deficit and a big change in your fat stores.
The reason belly seems to be called out a lot is that it tends to be where a majority of body fat resides when you gain weight. This area is in close proximity and this lends to those fat cells having more chance to store away lipids (fat).
The simplest way to lose that long term belly fat is to increase activity levels while simultaneously lowering overall caloric intake. Both of these are hallmarks of a most hikers lifestyles as they must carry foods so they are limited.
When you start hiking you may or may not be overweight, for many who haven't led super active lives as you age you tend to add one weight slowly and almost automatically, so does hiking help lose weight?
Hiking is an amazing full body continuous workout that you do over 8-10 hours each day. While this is low intensity it is working more than muscles and includes ligaments and stabilizers leading to high caloric deficits and overall weight loss through body fat being used.
Hiking for fat loss is an awesome way to avoid needing to own a gym membership or having to purchase home gym weights or machines. Going hiking once a week to lose weight could help you increase overall bod fat loss.
One this that hiking does better than almost any other activity is to force you to use all the body to keep continuous movement and effort through hours of travel.
Unlike many other activities that are limited in time and completed within an hour or less, with hiking this average time traveling will be 8 or more continuous hours of movement and balance correction.
Add onto this the typical hiker will have at least a basic backpack with gear in it adding onto the weight they carry and you see why the calorie burn can be so incredible for someone.
For example, myself, I weigh 270lbs and on the day hikes I will hike at least 10-18 miles round trip. If intended to overnight this becomes up to 40 miles within 2 days.
Most hikers average somewhere between 2-3 miles per hour when carrying a backpack and gear with them. This would typically mean hiking for 5-9 hours depending on your overall speed.
Now if you work out your approximate calories burned during this long period you can get a grasp of your daily energy needs to maintain weight or what you are expecting to lose.
Note the below is just based on your personal weight without a backpack and at a 5-10% grade uphill and downhill for those who are not carrying large backpacks where this would need to adjust.
|Weight||Avg Calories / Hr|
The good thing about backpacking weight loss is that, unlike other cardio, you are typically building up your muscle mass, ligament strength and durability and the stabilizers within as a full body workout.
As you put in time out on hikes for weight loss you may begin to find that you don't like sitting idle at home and will up your motion throughout non-hiking time also which can help accelerate belly and other fat losses.
As you can see hiking burns quite a lot of calories, for those who prefer to avoid machines and indoor workouts the best solution would be to take up the hobby of hiking and to start increasing outdoor exploration.
If you already hike then continue to put in the effort and push yourself as long and hard as you can if looking to drop some extra pandemic pounds!
If you compare them hour to hour with flat terrain and no changes to the environment then they are pretty balanced to each other, though hiking does edge out walking as to total caloric burn.
Walking though can be done anyplace and anytime which can help you get additional time burning calories which is really what the end all be all is to body fat and specifically belly fat losses.
I prefer to do hiking as cardio exercise but it does have issues related to finding local trail access and the time otherwise to travel and preparation.
Walking is awesome because you are able to do it anytime without travel, without planning and it can get you some good health benefits.
I absolutely enjoy the outdoors, I really don't prefer the indoors and working out indoors has always just been a "necessary" evil.
What I have been growing to understand is that the exercise you choose to do is much more easy to continue when you actually enjoy it, go figure right?
I wanted to write this today as the pandemic and being super idle has been damaging to my own personal weight and that it may have for others also, hiking is still something most of us could do.
Go get outside, get away from the electronic doctrine of checking Facebook, Instagram, and other apps continuously all day. Explore the world around you and realize that life doesn't start and end at the digital screen!
If you are big don't think you can't go out and hike until you lose weight, go start today and research putting together a full pack and start small with daily hikes moving up to longer overnights.