Is Hiking Better Than Running? A Comprehensive Comparison

Man Running in the Nature

Have you ever wondered which exercise is better – running or hiking? In this article, we’ll explore both activities and their individual benefits in order to determine whether running or hiking is the superior form of exercise.

We’ll cover everything from calories burned during each activity and cardiovascular benefits, to impact on joints and muscles used, injury risk and gear requirements. We’ll also discuss time required and types of terrain best suited for either activity, accessibility as well as effectiveness when it comes to weight loss.

Calories Burned

Is Hiking Better Than Running? - Hiking (Left) and Running (Right) Depicted

Hiking is generally considered to be a low-intensity activity, meaning that it burns fewer calories than running. According to Harvard Health Publishing, a person weighing 155 pounds will burn approximately 298 calories during an hour of hiking at a moderate pace. In comparison, the same person would burn around 606 calories during an hour of running at a 10-minute mile pace.

Nevertheless, there are numerous elements that can influence the amount of energy one expends during each exercise. For example, the terrain and elevation changes encountered while hiking can increase the intensity level and thus increase calorie burn. Additionally, running on an incline or at a faster pace will also result in more calories being burned than if you were running on flat ground or at a slower pace.

Impact on Joints

Impact on Joints When Hiking

When it comes to impact on your joints, hiking is a much less punishing activity than running. The contact with the ground is much softer and more forgiving as you walk. This means that your joints aren’t being subjected to the same jarring motion they would be while running. Furthermore, hikers rarely need to put their full weight on their front foot when walking which further reduces the pressure placed on their ankles and knees.

Running, on the other hand, can have a considerable amount of impact on a person’s joints. With each step taken, runners are subjecting their ankles, knees, hips and spine to a significant amount of force as their feet make contact with the ground. Longer runs can leave people feeling stiff and sore afterwords due to this increased load being placed upon them..

Is Hiking Better Than Running When It Comes To Muscles Used?

Muscles used when hiking

When it comes to the muscles used during hiking and running, there are some key differences. Hiking is a low-impact activity that primarily uses the glutes and lower back muscles to support the body and absorb shock. In contrast, running is a more intense exercise that demands greater exertion from the body. It targets the quads, hamstrings, calves, and core muscles in order to propel you forward. Additionally, running can also help strengthen your cardiovascular system as it increases your heart rate for a longer period of time than hiking.

Overall, both activities provide excellent physical benefits and can help you achieve your fitness goals. Whether you prefer hiking or running depends on your individual preference and what type of workout you’re looking for.

Injury Risk

Injury risks when Running and Hiking

Walking or trekking is commonly known as a low-impact exercise, while running can be considered more high impact. This means that the likelihood of physical injury when jogging exceeds that of hiking.

Common injuries associated with hiking include blisters, strains and sprains, cuts and scrapes, tummy troubles, trekking pole blisters, knee pain, and general soft tissue injuries such as cuts, abrasions, bruises, rashes, burns, stings and bites. To prevent these injuries it is important to wear appropriate clothing for the terrain you are hiking in and to use proper footwear. Additionally pre-taping your feet before a hike can help avoid blisters. Trekking poles can help reduce strain on your knees but should be used properly to avoid developing trekking pole blisters.

Common injuries associated with running include ligament sprains, muscle strains, tendinopathy (mostly ankle or gluteal), knee pain (PFJ or ITB syndrome), plantar fasciitis (heel pain) and shin splints. To prevent these injuries it is important to wear appropriate shoes for your foot type and build up mileage gradually when starting a new running program. Additionally strengthening exercises such as squats or lunges can help support the muscles around the joints which will reduce the risk of injury while running.

Overall both hiking and running have their own risks of injury but by taking proper precautions you can reduce your risk of getting injured while enjoying either activity outdoors!

Cardiovascular Benefits

Whether you prefer to go for a run or explore the outdoors on a hike, both activities offer excellent cardiovascular benefits. Incorporating running into your fitness routine will not only develop a more robust heart muscle, but it can also enhance your lung capacity and lower both blood pressure and cholesterol levels – ensuring that you maintain cardiac health for the years ahead.

If a vigorous exercise isn’t quite your speed, consider the moderate but equally rewarding activity of hiking! Perfect for all ages and skill levels, this outdoor adventure provides numerous benefits to both body and mind. Hiking offers many of the same cardiovascular benefits as running, at a lower intensity level. With outdoor workouts, you can not only build a healthy heart and lungs while torching unwanted calories – but also take in some of the most picturesque backdrops available.

Gear Required

Gear Required for a Hike

When it comes to gear, running is typically a much more minimalistic activity. Most runners only need to wear appropriate shoes, clothing (based on the climate), and a water bottle. Depending on the terrain or length of their run, some may opt for accessories such as headlamps or reflective vests. This basic gear is relatively inexpensive and easy to find in most sports stores or online retailers.

In contrast, hiking requires more extensive gear due to its longer duration and sometimes extreme terrain. Hikers must have access to items like a day pack, navigation tools (maps/compass/GPS), first-aid kits, layered clothing system and hiking boots – all of which can be quite costly depending on the quality of materials desired by the hiker. Additionally, these pieces are often larger than those associated with running.

Overall, hiking has higher overhead cost when it comes to purchasing the necessary gear required for safety purposes; however, most of these items are reusable for multiple trips so long as they are properly maintained over time. On the other hand, running requires minimal equipment which tends to be more affordable; however this equipment needs replacement every few months due to regular wear-and-tear from usage.

Time Required To reach A Fitness Target

It is important to consider the amount of time it takes to reach a fitness target when choosing between hiking and running. For example, someone who wants to build endurance may find that running offers faster results than hiking. This is because running requires greater intensity over shorter distances which can result in increased endurance over a much shorter period of time compared with hiking longer distances at a lower intensity.

On the other hand, if your goal is to burn fat, then you may choose to opt for hiking. This is because even though the speed is slower than running, it can still contribute towards reducing body fat as long as you hike for an extended period of time.

Overall, it simply depends on what kind of fitness goal you have in mind when deciding on which one to go with – whether it be increasing overall fitness or reducing body fat. Both activities come with their own set of benefits and each will require a different amount of time commitments depending on individual goals.

Mental Well-Being

Hiker enjoying the mountain view

Finally, another major difference between these two activities lies in their impact on mental well-being. Since hikes usually occur outside amidst nature’s beauty they tend to foster more mindful thoughts and provide greater relaxation benefits – something that is often lacking from an indoor treadmill run session.

This increased sense of peace from outdoor hikes may help reduce stress levels that eat away at beneficial health habits like healthy eating choices – leading to successful long-term weight loss results.

Hiking Vs Running For Weight Loss

Hiking and running are both excellent activities for weight loss. Both activities provide a great way to burn calories and get your heart rate up, which can help you lose weight. But when it comes to burning calories, running is the clear winner. Running at 10 mph can burn 733 calories in an hour, while hiking uphill can burn around 500-600 calories per hour.

Comparatively speaking, running is a more effective calorie-burning exercise than hiking if you’re trying to shed weight quickly. But for those seeking an extended workout without the heavy strain on their body, then hiking is better suited; it’s lower impact and poses less of an injury risk when compared with running — especially if you have any joint challenges or physical restrictions.


This article examined the differences between hiking and running, exploring how each activity can aid in weight loss. It was established that although both activities offer numerous benefits for those trying to shed pounds, it ultimately comes down to individual preference when deciding which one is best for you. Hiking offers a great way to tone muscles and spend time outdoors while running can help with improving metabolic rate and challenging oneself more as one progresses.

So is hiking better than running? The answer is: it depends! Both activities have their own advantages when it comes to losing weight; what matters most is finding the one that works for you, so take the time to find out which exercise suits you and your lifestyle best. Ultimately, any form of physical activity will bring positive results in terms of weight-loss – so get out there and enjoy yourself!