Get a great hiking workout on the mountain trails while enjoying nature and the clean, fresh air.

Hiking Workout

Hiking has its pros and cons. It is great for boosting the mood, improving heart health, and strengthening the muscles in the lower body. But, in certain situations it can be dangerous, if not properly prepared.

Pros of hiking

A hiking workout benefits by getting the muscles moving and heart pumping. It plays a positive role in lowering the risk of high cholesterol, high blood pressure, stroke, and heart attacks. Hiking is great for burning calories, especially on the difficult and hilly terrains.

You get to enjoy a challenging workout that strengthens and targets the calf muscles, glutes, hamstrings, quads, and helps to maintain or lose weight.

Plus, a long and relaxing hike makes it possible to get away from the everyday stresses of life and boosts the level of endorphins and adrenaline to up energy and mood. Also, trail hike in a large group if practical to improve relationships and socializing.

What muscles are used?

Hiking up mountainous trails will engage most of the muscle groups in the lower half of the body. Plus, it helps to improve the aerobic threshold and burn calories. Here are ten of the muscles that get the most strenuous hiking workout:

  • Abdominals
  • Ankle and Knee Complex
  • Calves
  • Glutes
  • Hamstrings
  • Lower Back
  • Oblique
  • Thigh (Inside and Outside)
  • Quadriceps

Use hiking or trekking poles to help engage the muscle in the upper body and burn a lot more calories.

Cons of hiking

Hiking at altitude on a mountain trail can lead to nausea, mild headache, fatigue, and lightheadedness, especially for those normally living at low altitude.

A preferred option is to adjust to the thinner atmosphere before starting the hike. Plus, the weather in certain regions can make sudden and dramatic changes. Make sure to check the weather forecast before setting off.

While enjoyable at the time, a hiking workout can leave the muscles sore and tight for 2-3 days after the event. Anyone out of shape or without the proper equipment can increase the risk of injuries from falling or slipping. Be cautious on the difficult terrain to avoid the unexpected accidents.

Hiking tips

Whether it is planned to compete a day-hike or multi-day hike it makes sense to pack for the unexpected emergency.

A hiking checklist should include a GPS, cell phone, compass, map, rain gear, sunscreen, first-aid kit, etc. Plus, a hike is best planned if it starts early in the day.

Weather can turn later in the day and an early start should help to minimize issues with rainfall and lightning.

Keep the energy up by packing the right trail food and use a hydration pack to maintain the proper fluid intake.

Safety on the trails

Walk the trails in a group or at least with a companion. Let someone at home know the intended hiking path and time expected to return.

Also, get familiar with the wildlife in the local area and wear clothes to match the conditions.