Germans have long been known as people who particularly enjoy spending time in the great outdoors. But especially in the form of hiking. More than a quarter of German tourists travel abroad to go hiking. Even more than half to spend time in nature. (1)
It's nice and good to spend time in nature with family or friends and to look at the landscape. However, does that actually help our body? More specifically, does it burn calories? If yes, how many? We will answer this and other important questions for you here, in this article. This gives you an all-encompassing insight into the topic of calorie consumption when hiking and other interesting facts that might interest you.
the essentials in brief
- Calorie consumption depends on many varying factors. It is hardly possible to set a fixed value, so you need to do your own research to find the optimal values.
- You can also influence the calorie consumption yourself. A little more luggage or hiking sticks will help you.
- Hiking not only has positive effects on your physical well-being, but also on your psyche. The combination of sport and nature are perfect to free your mind from everyday problems.
Calorie consumption when hiking: What you should know
Here we answer the most important questions that are common for anyone who is interested in it. For the latter points, we spurred on tips and fun facts that might be of interest to you.
How many calories can you burn while hiking?
Right from the start, we can tell you straight away: "Yes, you burn calories when hiking". However, determining an exact amount of calories you burn while hiking is extremely difficult to generalize because it involves many different criteria.
It is hardly possible to create a guideline here. Doing your own research is required!
Assuming that a person weighing 70 kg walks for an hour on a relatively level path, the calorie burn is approximately 360 per hour. (2)
Hiking is a perfect way to lose some weight. In addition, everyone can find joy in it. (Image source: i yunmai / Unsplash)
If the path goes through uneven landscapes and mountains with more differences in altitude, the calorie consumption is significantly higher. With the 70 kg example, consumption is around 550 per hour. (2)
Don't forget, however, that this value can very likely look very different for you. Your weight, gender, age, height difference and other various criteria play a major role. That is why we recommend a calorie calculator that is specially designed for hiking for an approximate calculation. (3)
How can you optimize calorie consumption while hiking?
In fact, there are ways you can optimize the amount of calories you burn while hiking. The consequences can either affect endurance, well-being or calorie consumption.
Hiking is suitable for everyone, even for people suffering from diseases such as diabetes or similar. (4)
Pace has a significant effect on the calories you burn. However, it must be chosen carefully. For an average person, the pace is around 4 km/h. More athletic people hike at speeds of up to 6 km/h. Of course, you can adjust the tempo to suit you better. Not everyone has excellent stamina, and everyone has to start somewhere.
We would like to particularly recommend that you do not exaggerate the pace. Because if you overestimate yourself, there is an increased risk of injury. To avoid this, better stay on the safe side.
In addition, the underground has an effectiveness. On natural ground you burn about 20 more calories per kilometer. As soon as you have additional luggage with you, that means more weight to carry. Calorie consumption decreases by about 2% per kilogram. (5) So you can purposefully add more weight to your shoulders if you're looking for a bigger challenge.
Hiking sticks are another possible addition to your hiking experiences. The calorie consumption when hiking with sticks can increase by up to an additional 20%. This is because the upper muscles are engaged and exercised. (6)
After all, you can increase hiking fun and comfort with the right clothing. The breathability helps you avoid having to bathe in your sweat underneath your clothes. This is especially important in warm weather. With the right footwear, you can prevent possible foot injuries.
To give you a rough overview of all these possible variations, we have visualized some data using a table:
|without optimization||with optimization|
|little difference in altitude (150 m) : 360 kcal||more difference in altitude (500 m) : 600 kcal|
|4 km/h : 360 calories||6km/h : 490 calories|
|without additional weight (70 kg) : 360 kcal||with extra weight (76 kg) : 391 kcal|
|without horse mackerel: 360 kcal||with horse mackerel: 432 kcal|
Note: When calculating the values, we used a calorie calculator for Wander. (3) The values on the left column were always chosen the same. For the ones on the right, only one variable has been changed.
Is calorie expenditure affected by temperature when hiking?
Whether you like it or not, there are occasional hikes where the heat or the cold is simply unbearable. However, if you want to continue on your way, there are definitely some things that change with the temperatures, right?
We do not recommend temperatures that are too high for a hike. The risk of heat stroke should not be taken under any circumstances. (Image source: Jaroslaw Kwoczala / Unsplash)
Well, we've all had the experience that the body doesn't cope as well with higher temperatures. This means it may be harder to breathe during exercise and stamina may not be as plentiful. The lungs and heart have to work much harder in warmer weather. This in turn leads to increased energy consumption. (7) That's why you find it so difficult to perform the usual work under such conditions.
Your body tries to maintain a constant temperature of 36°C. Every time the outside temperature changes, the body has to adapt again. (8) So even more energy consumption. As you can see, the body needs a lot of energy to adapt to the temperatures. If you are a sporty person, you can take advantage of the slightly higher temperatures.Advantages
- higher calorie consumption
- Endurance is trained
- your body adapts to higher demands
Here again the advice applies: do not overestimate your strength. If you get dizzy during the hike, stop immediately and go to a place where there is shade and where you may be able to get third party help.
Calories burned while walking vs cycling vs jogging
To give you an all-encompassing insight into the topic of calorie consumption, we also offer a rough comparison with two other sports. The table shows how many calories you can burn per hour at an average speed for each sport.
|Hike||Jog||To go biking|
|3 km/h : 430 calories||8 km/h : 580 calories||15km/h : 200-300 calories|
|4 km/h : 490 calories||10km/h : 730 calories||18km/h : 300-400 calories|
|5 km/h : 560 calories||12 km/h : 870 calories||22 km/h : 400-600 calories|
|6 km/h : 630 calories||14 km/h : 1010 calories||up to 28 km/h: 600-800 kcal|
Note: We've tried to include roughly proportional speeds and body measurements in the calorie calculators. (3,9,10)
Is anything else, apart from calorie consumption, encouraged when hiking?
While your primary goal should be to burn some calories by hiking, there are other things going on in your body and mental health as well. The combination of sport and exercise in the great outdoors reduces stress and improves your immune system. In addition, after several hikes, the average blood pressure decreases. (11)
Ultimately, whether you like it or not, not only will you benefit from burning fat , but your mental health will improve as well. So, you can use hiking as a way of recharging energy to calm yourself down and put you in a good mood.
Hiking to burn calories and get a tan at the same time?
Another aspect that not many think of when people talk about hiking is tanning. The whole thing sounds ridiculous at first, but whether you want it or not, in sunny weather you will most likely end up wearing shorts. If the path takes you through fields, you will get ample exposure to the sun.
Finally, you can then skip the visits to the solarium and instead let nature be your own location for tanning. If you want to take advantage of this, plan your hike when the weather is sunny.
Location tips for your hikes on calorie consumption
We may have now inspired you to start a hiking adventure yourself. Of course, we would also want the experiences to be great, so we're bringing you a list. It contains the most popular hiking trails of our editors.
- Oberlausitzer Bergweg in Saxony
- Altmühltal Panoramaweg in Bavaria
- Ridgeway through Saxony, Thuringia and Bavaria
- Goldsteig in the Upper Palatinate and Bavarian Forest
- Walserweg (Switzerland)
- Ötztal Nature Park (Austria)
These suggestions are popular with many hikers, so there's a good chance you'll meet other people along the way.
What are the alternatives to hiking to burn calories?
Hiking isn't the only way to burn calories. Other sports such as cycling offer a possible alternative. There are pros and cons to each activity. (Image source: Munbaik Cycling Clothing / Unsplash)
Here we would like to go into a little more detail on a previously mentioned point. Hiking is one possible option for consuming calories. However, there are also alternatives. Here we take a closer look at jogging and cycling.
- Jogging: You can have jogging as a hobby and practice it every day. Since the routes can be selected very flexibly, you can easily adapt them to your everyday life. You don't need any special equipment for this, except for comfortable running shoes. In contrast to hiking, we recommend jogging alone. This allows you to keep to your own pace without having to adapt to others.
- Cycling: Cycling, like jogging, can be practiced every day for the same reasons. You are also welcome to do the activity with friends, as you don't have to adapt so much here. On the other hand, the costs for the equipment required for this are usually higher. Of course you can do the whole thing with cheap inventory, but the results will be noticeably affected.
You can decide for yourself which activity is appropriate for you and how much you want to invest in it. Because not everyone has the time they need in everyday life to go hiking regularly.
As you can now see, there is a lot to know about calorie expenditure when hiking. Various factors play a role here. In addition, not only your body thanks you for the activity in nature, but also your psyche.
Outdoor activities are of great importance, especially in the present time. The work that takes place in a workshop or in the office on the computer affects us negatively with stress . That's why hiking is a good antagonist to in this case. Your head is freed from problems and you go into nature. Everybody has to recharge their batteries somewhere and where better than in nature?
- Statistics about activities while traveling Source
- Internet article about calorie consumption when hiking Source
- Calorie calculator while hiking Source
- Stoltzfus KB, Naylor D, Cattermole T, Ankeney A, Mount R, Chang R, Gibson CA. Blood Pressure Changes While Hiking at Moderate Altitudes: A Prospective Cohort Study. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020 Oct 30;17(21):7978. doi: 10.3390/ijerph17217978. PMID: 33142996; PMCID: PMC7663232. Source
- PDF file with information about hiking Source
- Hiking sticks and calorie consumption Source
- Tucker MA, Caldwell AR, Butts CL, Robinson FB, Reynebeau HC, Kavouras SA, McDermott BP, Washington TA, Turner RC, Ganio MS. Effect of hypohydration on thermoregulatory responses in men with low and high body fat exercising in the heat. J Appl Physiol (1985). 2017 Jan 1;122(1):142-152. doi: 10.1152/japplphysiol.00768.2016. Epub 2016 Oct 27. PMID: 27789773. Source
- Study of body temperature adaptation Source
- Calorie calculator jogging Source
- Calories burned while cycling Source
- Mitten D, Overholt JR, Haynes FI, D'Amore CC, Ady JC. Hiking: A Low-Cost, Accessible Intervention to Promote Health Benefits. Am J Lifestyle Med. 2016 Jul 9;12(4):302-310. doi: 10.1177/1559827616658229. PMID: 32063815; PMCID: PMC6993091. Source