If you're itching to slip back into that too-tight bikini or miniskirt that used to fit like a dream, walking or running up a slope can help. While no exercise "makes" you lose weight -- your diet matters at least as much as your activities -- hill-climbing exercises burn serious calories to help the pounds melt away faster. Climbing is tough, however, so start with a gentle incline and see your doctor if you have any medical conditions.
You could climb until you're breathless and not lose an ounce of fat if you hit the fast-food restaurant on the way home. That's because weight loss requires a calorie deficit, so you need to eat less than you burn to see results. For most women, this means eating 1,200 to 1,500 calories per day as well as increasing physical activity, according to the University of Minnesota Medical School. This will help you drop about 2 pounds per week -- but don't be an overachiever, as losing weight faster puts your health at risk.
Calories Burned Climbing Hills
Whether you walk or run, heading uphill burns significantly more calories than traversing flat land. For example, a 150-pound woman burns about 132 calories in 30 minutes walking at 3.5 mph on even turf, but burns 218 calories by adding a 5-percent grade. Similarly, she burns 606 calories running at 7 mph on flat ground, but shreds 779 calories with the slope. Thus, she could lose more than 1 pound every 4.5 exercise sessions with the uphill run, even while eating the same number of calories that would sustain her weight without the exercise.
Another weight-loss perk of uphill workouts is increased muscle mass. Scaling hills adds a greater weight load to muscles, prompting new fiber growth. Your body burns calories while maintaining muscle mass, even when you lie still, so you'll have a higher metabolic rate around the clock. According to a study published in "The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition" in 2010, adults younger than 50 years burn 13 calories per day for every pound of resting muscle. In contrast, you only burn about 4.5 calories per day for each pound of fat.
Walking or running uphill counts as vigorous aerobic exercise, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends 75 to 150 minutes per week of this type of activity for weight management and cardiovascular health. Build your routine slowly by alternating climbing and flat-ground intervals until you grow more accustomed to the activity. And even though you may build muscle with uphill cardio, you still need to perform strength-training exercises such as weighted exercises, pushups and squats for all muscle groups at least twice weekly.
- University of Minnesota Medical Center: Weight Loss Recommendations
- HelpGuide.org: Healthy Weight Loss & Dieting Tips
- ExRx.net: Walk / Run Metabolic Calculator
- Stack.com: Why Sprinters Are Muscular and Endurance Runners Are Thin
- American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: Specific Metabolic Rates of Major Organs and Tissues Across Adulthood: Evaluation by Mechanistic Model of Resting Energy Expenditure
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: General Physical Activities Defined by Level of Intensity
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: How Much Physical Activity do Adults Need?
Nina K. is a Los Angeles-based journalist who has been published by USAToday.com, Fitday.com, Healthy Living Magazine, Organic Authority and numerous other print and web publications. She has a philosophy degree from the University of Colorado and a journalism certificate from UCLA.