Outdoor Exercise: How Many Calories Are Burnt During Hiking?

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Hiking is an activity that one can regard as a leisure activity and yet burn out calories as one does in the gym. It gives one the opportunity to view nature in all its greatness while taking part in the exercise.  Whether one is hiking in the parks or national forests, fewer activities can defeat the body benefits of hiking. In addition, reports show that exploring the nature enhances an individual’s frame of mind.

The fact that an individual can opt for different terrains to hike in, indicates that there will be different goals attained during a workout.

For example, hiking in a rocky or mountainous landscape will achieve the results of an intense aerobic exercise. The reason is that the various inclination changes continually challenge the muscles and increases the heart rate; as a result, calories are burned.  Additionally, the body weight and pack weight play a role in burning calories during hiking.

This is because the weights cause the body to engage the different muscle groups such as the back, and thighs; hence boosting the workout as one would do in the gym. Factors such as wind resistance, climbing rocks, jumping ditches, among others enable one to have a good full body workout. 


Several factors make hiking an excellent choice of work out. Factors such as weight, intensity, terrain, inclination, and speed affect the outcome of hiking as a form of exercise.


Journals such as the American Council for Sports Medicine report that an increase in intensity during any exercise causes an individual to burn more calories. Therefore, according to the report, if an individual increases his or her vigor during hiking for 45 minutes, one can burn an extra 190 calories during the day. The reason is that an individual’s metabolism heightens as one does the vigorous hike, which can result in the burning off extra calories that can last for an average of 14.2 hours after the workout. According to the report, the burn can go on up through 3.5 hours of sleep.  

Moreover, the CalorieLab report suggests that an individual who has participated in hiking at a fast pace is highly likely to burn more calories. For instance, based on the report, a person with 200lb can anticipate burning approximately 637 calories while hiking fast in the mountainous terrain. While another person with similar weight can expect to burn approximately 455 calories while hiking quickly in the cross-country.



The weight of the individual determines the calories to be burned during the hiking experience. For instance, an individual with 160lb may be expected to burn between 430 – 440 calories per hour during hiking. On the other hand, a person with 200lb may be expected to burn approximately 550 calories per hour during hiking. 

Moreover, a person’s body weight is used to gauge the number of calories that should be burned during a two-mile hike. Therefore, if a person weighs more, in order for the two-mile hike to be effective, he or she will have to put more effort in order to achieve a good result. An example would be if a person weighs 200lb, he or she will be expected to burn approximately 637 calories per hour during the hike.

Meanwhile, the person who weighs 240lbs will be expected to burn approximately 763 calories per hour during the hike. For that reason, if a person weighs more, then he or she will have to put extra effort to burn the calories during the hiking exercise.

Additionally, the load or pack that an individual carries greatly influences the outcome of the hiking exercise. That is, the weight that someone carries during hiking has an impact on the number of calories that he or she will burn after the hiking workout.  For example, if a person carries a rucksack, he or she will burn about 50 and 100 calories in an hour, than one who does not have any weight.

In the case that a person has a heavy load and is hiking for a long distance, he or she is expected to burn an additional 200 calories within an hour.  A person will pack more gear when going to a rugged terrain as opposed to a less technical terrain; therefore, he or she will burn more calories because of the additional weight for the workout. For instance, a male carrying a backpack of 42lb through a two-mile rugged terrain would burn 776 calories for every hour. A female carrying a rucksack of 42lb through a two-mile rugged terrain would burn 665 calories for every hour.  



The landscape that one chooses for hiking implicates in the number of calories that one would expect to lose. Even though, it is difficult to determine the exact number of calories one will burn when he or she is on a flat, rocky, or grassy topography. Nevertheless, research has established that a person will burn more calories hiking up a hill than a flat or rocky ground. In general, the tougher the terrain, the more calories an individual will burn. Other case studies have shown that generally a male weighing 190lbs will burn 776 calories every hour on a hilly landscape, other than 646 calories every hour on a moderate landscape.



A landscape that is steeper or flat will cause implications on a number of calories to be burned during the hiking exercise. A steeper terrain will be more difficult to tackle, as a result, a person will have to put more effort to go through the course thus will burn more calories. As opposed to a flat terrain, that will not involve a lot of the deep muscles.  



The timeframe that one will use to complete a course is dependent on the speed that one will take. As a result, in case one takes a longer period to complete a short course on a flat terrain, it will mean that he or she has not done the exercise in good speed so may not get the results needed. Therefore, as one purpose to increase the hiking speed, the more calories the person will burn through the hike. For example, if one hikes at a speed of 2mph and weighs 160lbs, that person will burn just about 183 calories for every hour. If the person increases the speed to 3.5mph then he or she will burn about 277 calories for every hour.


According to Backpacker Magazine, the calories burnt for a person during a tough day of backpacking, based on the body weight and without a heavy backpack, would be 25 to 30 calories for every pound of body weight. For example, a person of 185 pounds would burn 4625 to 5550 calories.

Based on a resource from calorie calculator , hiking on a hilly terrain with a 21 to 42-pound weight, the assumption being it is an eight-hour hike, a person of 185 pounds will burn 5371 calories. In case that person was carrying more than 42 pounds, then he or she would burn approximately 6,042 calories.

In accordance with The Mayo Clinic, for the backpacking activity listed, a person weighing 160lbs will burn 511 calories per hour. Meanwhile, a person weighing 200lbs will burn 637 calories for every hour. Hence, for an eight-hour hike, the range would be 4,008 calories to 5096 calories, based on the weight.

According to fitwatch.com , the hiking activities are classified depending on the load the hiker carries. For instance, if the hiker of 185lbs in body weight carries a moderate load for eight hours, then he or she will burn 5639 calories. If the hiker of 185lbs carries a moderate to heavy load, then he or she will burn 6344 calories.

Based on the report from Nutristrategy, that computes the calories burned for every hour for an individual weighing 130lb, 155lb, 180lb, and 205lb, had the following data.

A person with a backpack and weighed 130lb burned 413 calories - 155lb burned 493 calories - 180lb burned 572 calories - and 250lb burned 651 calories.

A person hiking cross country and weighed 130lb burned 354 calories - 155lb burned 422 calories - 180lb burned 490 calories -  and 250lb burned 558 calories.

A person rock climbing or mountain climbing and weighed 130lb burned 472 calories - 155lb burned 563 calories - 180lb burned 654 calories - and 250lb burned 745 calories.

A person rock climbing, ascending and weighed 130lb burned 649 calories - 155lb burned 774 calories - 180lb burned 899 calories - and 250lb burned 1024 calories.


In general, for an individual to enjoy the benefits of hiking as an exercise, factors such as terrain, body weight, pack weight, intensity, speed, and inclination have to be considered. Moreover, the weight carried and body weights are vital for the success of the hiking exercise, in terms of burning calories, as compared to speed. In addition, in order to enhance the fitness advantages of hiking, Cohen suggested that activities such as jumping and cutting off tree stumps, squatting, and leaping up small inclines be performed repeatedly.



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