Written by :Billy Hale
There are plenty of benefits to hiking the great outdoors. It's a form of nature therapy—allowing you to soak in the beauty of nature while benefiting your mental health—and can even teach you about endurance and motivation, permitting you the opportunity to push through a straightforward, demanding task with the reward of self-empowerment. And if you're aiming to lose weight, hiking can help you do just that.
This blog post will explore exactly why hiking is great for weight loss—and give you tips on the best way to begin, how to stay motivated, and how to optimize your treks to shed those pounds.
How hiking can help you lose weight
Hiking is a form of cardio exercise, which means it's a rhythmic activity that aims to pump your heart up to the specific heart rate zone ideal for burning fat—around 70%-80% of your maximum heart rate. Other examples include jogging or squat jumps. Unlike those exercises, however, hiking is low-impact. This makes it easier to do longer sessions of hiking than you would with more intense exercises, and you'll be able to recover quicker. Leveraging those facts will help you translate your hikes into weight loss.
How to get started
Find a beginner-friendly trail
Since you're gearing up to lose weight, you might be tempted to pick the most arduous trail you can think of. Don't fall into that trap. If you're a beginner, select a route that's under 5 miles and isn't too steep. Most of the weight you lose will come from the distance you cover rather than the strenuousness of the trek, and you'll want your first few hikes to be achievable and enjoyable.
Get the essential equipment
Most of the essentials are things you'll already have at home. Wear long sleeves and long pants, preferably made of moisture-wicking material, to protect you from the elements while keeping you from getting soaked in your sweat. You can get away with a good pair of sneakers for shoes, but be prepared to get them wet or muddy. Finally, bring a sturdy backpack to store your extra clothing layers, snacks, and water. To boost your weight loss efforts, you can add more pounds to your backpack. Carrying that weight will help you burn more calories.
How to stay motivated
Set sustainable goals
Since losing weight requires significant lifestyle adjustments, staying motivated to reach your goals can be challenging. To maintain your motivation for weight loss, choosing a sustainable approach will make it easier to continue your weight loss efforts in the long term. Hiking can help with that. It's a low-intensity activity that allows you to set your own pace—so aside from finding beginner-friendly trails, you can start with short 30-minute hikes before working your way up to longer and more strenuous sessions. You can also start hiking as infrequently as once a month and gradually trek more often.
Personalize your hike
Different aspects of the trek appeal to different hikers, so schedule time in your itinerary to enjoy the parts of it that you love. For example, if you enjoy bird-watching, give yourself plenty of time to take out your binoculars and observe different birds in their habitats. Research and hunt down specific orchids if that's what you like doing. When you hike, you're taking the trouble to leave your everyday environment and delve into the beauty of the outdoors—and doing so your way can motivate you to take longer, more strenuous, and fat-burning treks.
How to maximize weight loss benefits
Hiking in itself will help you lose weight—you can burn up to 250 calories per hour if you walk at a pace of 2.5 miles an hour. You can further accentuate this by leveraging the slopes and inclines on your trails. Try hiking uphill as fast as you can. Hiking isn't a race, but exerting yourself every so often can help you burn more calories. You can also control your movements as you walk downhill to activate your muscle groups and lessen the impact on your joints.
Do exercises while hiking
If you really want to level up your weight loss regime during hiking, you can build upon the energetic momentum and incorporate mini-workouts during certain points in the trail. It's up to you to choose the specific stopping point—it can be if you happen upon a clearing or when you reach a particular mile. Then, you can do a few lunges and push-ups or even practice a peaceful round of yoga to burn off some fat.
Hiking is both a fun and productive way to exercise while reveling in the great outdoors. Sign up for the next accessible trek near you and take the next few steps on your weight loss journey.