Doing time on a treadmill isn't the only way to burn calories. Treading uphill in the great outdoors burns calories and lets you enjoy fresh air and the beauty of nature, all while getting more fit. Strap on a backpack to increase resistance and caloric burn.
Calories are units of heat energy that our body uses the same way an automobile uses fuel. To maintain, gain or lose weight, we measure and monitor the number and quality of calories that we put into our bodies. We must also monitor the number of calories that we expend or burn. The rate that a person burns calories during any given activity depends on several factors, including speed, the amount of resistance and how much that person weighs.
Walking Versus Hiking
To calculate the number of calories burned during any activity, it's important to define that activity. When it comes to hiking, definitions vary from one location to another, but generally speaking hiking is simply walking outdoors on a natural surface, according to the hiking and trekking experts at Alpenwild.
Weight Matters, Or Does It?
The average 185-pound person will burn 178 calories during 30 minutes of walking at a moderate to brisk rate of 3.5 miles per hour, according to Harvard Medical School. A person 20 pounds heavier, according to NutriStrategy.com, might burn the same number of calories. Statistics vary, forcing the question of accuracy when it comes to measuring caloric burn. A person carrying an additional 20 pounds should burn more calories, yet results vary from one test to the next.
Hiking on natural terrain often includes hills. A 205-pound person hiking uphill for 30 minutes carrying a pack weighing up to 20 pounds may burn almost 350 calories. It's important to remember that it's nearly impossible to predict or measure caloric burn rate in a natural setting, though, since the grade of the hill and the quality of the terrain affect the rate at which the hiker will burn calories.
- ABC News: What Is A Calorie And Why Is It Important To Know How Many Calories There Are In Certain Foods?
- AlpenWild: FAQ
- JWBase Camp: Backpacking and Weight Loss
- Nutristrategy: Calories Burned Walking, Hiking, Climbing or Backpacking
- Harvard Health Publications: Calories Burned in 30 Minutes for People of Three Different Weights
Aline Lindemann is a health, food and travel writer. She has also worked as a social worker, preschool teacher and art educator. Lindemann holds a Master of Liberal Studies in culture, health and creative nonfiction writing from Arizona State University.