When I think of all the people I have met trekking in the last 7 years, I don’t remember anyone ever saying that they trekked to lose weight. Maybe some were not comfortable admitting it, but I think that, generally speaking, weight loss is not a major factor in why people go hiking. But honestly, why the hell not? Many of my friends are almost obsessed with losing weight and maintaining the ideal body shape. I guess it’s a question of mindset. Or maybe it is not as fashionable to go on a hike in nature as it is to hit a trendy gym for an hour or two of exercise every now and then. God knows … but the truth is, hiking is one of the best ways to lose weight! You do not believe me? Keep reading.
When you work out at the gym, do aerobics, or do some high-energy sports, you can expect to burn about 4-800 calories per hour. Compare that to trekking and you will find that trekking is on the lower end of that range. During a hike, a “typical hiker” burns between 4 and 500 calories per hour. So why is hiking so good for weight loss?
The two main reasons are:
1.When you go trekking you do it all day. Burn calories from morning to night, not just for a couple of hours in a gym.
On the trekking trail you are away from the temptations of everyday life, cookie jar, junk food restaurants, etc.
Let’s look at the math.
Suppose you are a bit like me, male, 30 years old, around 160 pounds / 72 kg.
You go trekking and carry an extra 7 to 10 kg (15 to 20 pounds) of stuff in your backpack. You do a good hike that is a bit tough, but enjoyable. You walk for 8 hours a day, burning 500 calories per hour. That’s 4000 calories that you burn right there. You’ll probably burn another 1,500 calories while resting for the rest of the day.
TOTAL CALORIES BURNED: 5500 CAL / DAY
2. You do sports or intense training, an average of one hour a day. That will burn 800 calories. Besides that, you live a normal life, with moderate activity, going to school, office or light physical work, shopping, housework, etc. To do this, your body will burn about 2,700 calories per day.
TOTAL CALORIES BURNED: 3,500 CAL / DAY
Do you see my point?
While hiking, you burn 2000 more calories per day, compared to vigorous exercise! Well, at least in this example. The precise figures are up to you. If you weigh more, carry a heavier backpack, walk more, on rougher terrain, etc., you will burn even more calories. If you are smaller and take it more calmly, you will burn less. But these numbers are pretty typical.
It is true that you probably eat a little more while trekking. But many of the extra calories burned will normally come from burning body fat. Hiking is a sustained activity, so it is easier for the body to burn body fat, at a slow but steady rate.
And besides being excellent for losing weight, trekking brings you closer to a spectacular natural landscape, as well as to your own body. I don’t go hiking because I want to lose weight. I do it for the pleasure and feeling it gives me every time I have a few days of vacation or a couple of weeks to spare in some way. And even though I’m not overweight, I always come back much thinner and for some reason with a fresh and more positive outlook on life!