Q. Is Hiking or Running Better. A. Hiking and running has differences and similarities; the most-effective physical activity is the one you like, which keeps the motivation up.

The preferred option is certain to relate to several different factors.

Hiking vs. Running

Hiking and running are types of aerobic or cardiovascular activities that increase the heart rate. Both of these physical activities are great at improving the performance of the lungs and heart, as well as making it possible to lose weight.

  • Hiking: Hiking is a great aerobic activity that virtually anyone can join in. Hiking in the local parks or backcountry is fairly simple and safe to get started and does not require a lot of specialized equipment to get going. A 60 minute hike session has the potential to burn up to 650 calories – although this is impacted by several factors such as weight, intensity, pack load, and trail difficulty. The most effective benefit of the health and weight loss is to hike uphill. Hiking is a low-impact activity and less likely to cause injuries compared to running or cycling.
  • Running: Running is a more vigorous cardiovascular activity and has the potential to burn a lot more calories compared to hiking. Running for 60 minutes has the potential to burn up to 1350 calories – although the body weight and intensity will have an impact on the estimated calorie burn. Plus, the heart rate is increased to about 70-85% of its maximum. Running for 75-90 minutes per week is useful to improve the health and well-being.


The actual pace of the hiking or running activity varies considerably. Hiking is of course the slower of the two aerobic activities, but that does not mean it has less intensity.

Hiking an elevated path with a weighted pack at a fast pace gives similar intensity to a run performed at a moderate pace.


Hiking and running are types of weight-bearing activities which have a positive impact on bone density, which helps to lower the risk of developing osteoporosis in later life.

Weight-bearing exercises can involve any activity that has you upright and supporting the body weight.

Out of the two exercises, running is certain to have a more negative impact on the joints which is more noticeable if preexisting conditions are already in play in the area of the lower back or leg joints.


What’s better for you hiking or running when it relates to caloric expenditure? Running is certain to be most effective at burning calories.

A 60 minute run at 5 miles per hour has the potential to burn up to 700 calories. This compares to about 525 calories for a person hiking the same length of time cross country.

Muscles activated

The muscles activated on a hike or run are quite similar and include strengthening the anterior tibialis muscles, calves, hamstrings, quadriceps, and glutes.

For the hiker, the intensity of the activity is significantly enhanced with a heavy pack on the back. Plus, the uphill hiking or running puts more intensity and stress on the glutes and calves.