I, and many others define Hill Walking as walking in the countryside and hiking, usually carrying some form of Daysack of Backpack and wearing specialist footwear. Not just walking up and down a few steep hills in the middle of a suburban town.
Yes, you can lose weight by Hill Walking, and pretty quickly too. Normal walking such as walking around your local Park, Lake or City is a form of exercise that many people think will help them to lose weight, but don’t be fooled. Evolution has modelled our bodies over millennia to be extremely efficient at walking, so we won’t burn that many calories doing it. That is unless of course, we take our bodies out of the comfort zone of simply walking and add in some hills.
Adding hills into your walking workouts is where things become interesting in terms of weight loss.
Is Hill Walking a Good Way to Lose Weight?
Hill Walking is a good way to lose weight. It is also an extremely enjoyable and efficient way to lose weight. Let’s have a look at why.
When we go hill walking, we add in numerous other health benefits to our workout. Being in the green open spaces of nature has a relaxing and calming effect on the human mind and body. Being away from the hustle and bustle of cities and towns is also a welcome break. There is also the fact that we will be breathing in large amounts of fresh country air, which has to be better for us than sucking in exhaust fumes if we were walking around town.
Next of course is the variety of the training provided by the terrain itself. It takes a lot more effort Hill Walking on undulating terrain than it does to walk on a treadmill.
Any terrain where you are constantly speeding up and slowing down, stepping over puddles and streams, ascending steep hills, straddling fences and scrambling over rocks, is going to be far more demanding on your body in both a physical sense and a balance sense. Far more so than the constant rhythmic plodding pace on a perfectly balanced treadmill in a gym. (Think about working all those tiny muscles that rarely get used over and over again to stay upright in the outdoors)
Why Will I Lose Weight Hill Walking?
We lose weight when Hill Walking by simply burning off excess calories. Hill Walking, especially on tough undulating ground with lots of hills and obstacles is demanding. When we up the physical demands on our bodies, we need more calories for fuel to operate efficiently. These calories have to come from somewhere.
So where do these calories come from? Firstly we will use up the “On demand” energy in the form of Glycogen stored for ready use in our Liver and Muscles. But, Glycogen is in limited demand. So providing we Hill Walk for a reasonable amount of time, around 45 minutes plus, and we put sufficient physical demand on our bodies, we are going to move onto fat burning.
We will first burn off the fatty acids flowing around in our blood stream from recent meals. These fatty acids are more powerful than Glycogen, but just like Glycogen, they are in short supply. Once this supply begins to deplete, out body realises and releases more fat in the form of fatty acids into our blood stream, but this time the fat isn’t from recent meals, it is from our stored body fat. We want to remain in this zone for as long as possible to get the maximum fat burning, weight loss effects.
How Many Calories Will I Burn on a Hill Walk?
This is a difficult question to answer, but a simple one to explain. The heavier you are, the more calories you will burn doing the same Hill Walk.
Here’s a quick explanation from the site Backroads.com to explain with a few figures included for clarity:
“In general, the number of calories burned while hiking is dependent on your body weight. The more you weigh, the more calories your body is likely to burn on a hike. For example, a 160-pound person will burn somewhere between 430 and 440 calories per hour of hiking, while a 200-pound person will burn closer to 550 calories per hour of hiking”.
Hopefully that is clears enough to understand. For comparison purposes, walking on a treadmill or aroung our local area at normal pace only burns in the region of 100 calories and hour.
There are obviously many other factors that speed up and slow down the rate of calorie burn, but as a general description this one is simple and elegant.
Do I Need To Watch What I Eat or Diet to Lose Weight by Hill Walking?
If you stick with your normal eating habits and add a programme of regular Hill Walking into your weekly schedule, then no.
However, you can increase your rate of Weight Loss and Far Burning significantly if you compound your gains by changing your eating habits for the better.
Cutting our Salty and Processed Foods alone could have a significant positive effect on your weight loss. A reduction in calorie intake will have a similar and significant effect too.
We are not talking about a complete lifestyle change or some form of dramatic fad diet here. All we are talking about is replacing a few unhealthy food choices with a few healthier ones, and cutting down the amount we consume by a few percent.
How is Hill Walking Good for Weight Loss?
Hill Walking is good for weight loss for a variety of reasons:
Firstly, Hill Walking is an effective way to lose weight without being too demanding on our bodies. We push ourselves just enough to get into our fat burning zone, and stay there.
Secondly, it is easy to get into Hill Walking. You only need minimal kit and there is usually suitable countryside freely available to hike over on the outskirts of most towns and cities.
Thirdly, Hill Walking is an inexpensive hobby. It is far cheaper than paying for a personal trainer or gym membership.
Fourthly, Hill Walking has many other free added physical and mental health benefits associated with it. What’s not to like?
Is it Better to Walk Uphill or Downhill?
To be fair, if you are starting and finishing in the same spot, for example a car park, you are going to have exactly the same amount of uphills as downhill to get back to where you started.
Both uphill walking and downhill walking will exert different demands on far different muscle groups in your body. This is great news for us in the weight loss sense. As we discussed earlier, putting demands on unfamiliar and seldom used minor muscle groups, by being out of balance for example is demanding, so we will burn more calories by doing it. It will also tone up those rarely used muscles making us look better.
We need to add these uphills and downhills into our Hill Walks in order to get the maximum benefit from our outdoors trips. If we didn’t, what would be the point of being there? We might as well have gone to the the gym and used the treadmill or strolled around town.
Is it better to Walk Faster or Longer
I believe it is better to walk faster, provided the terrain is demanding enough to make us work.
The reason being, as we mentioned before, is that the body has become incredibly efficient at walking. If we are walking at a moderate pace, and burning around 100 calories an hour, we are going to have to walk for an awful long time to burn off enough calories for significant weight loss.
However, as we walk more and more towards jogging speed, walking itself becomes inefficient, especially if we are walking over difficult terrain. We will begin to burn off far more calories per hour, in the region of 400 to 500 per hour, so we will only have to hill walk for a fraction of the time.
For our generation who are in a hurry to do everything due to the demands of modern life, this is a nice hidden bonus.
Is it Good to Walk Every Day?
Yes, recent studies have shown that exercising 7 days a week for 45 minutes is the ideal. This flies in the face of what I was taught growing up, which was to train 3 times a week for 45 minutes, but who am I to argue with “Recent Studies”?
Hill Walking is Training, and it is great for weight loss, fat burning and staying toned. Hill Walking isn’t overly demanding on our bodies either, so Hill Walking every day should be fine, if you have the free time to fit it in.
What is a Good Distance to Walk Every Day for Weight Loss?
If you decide to Hill Walk every day, and the recommended training time is 45 minutes, then walking 4-6 miles seems about a reasonable distance to walk to fit into those parameters.
Walking 4-6 miles will allow you to achieve your target fat burning zone and shouldn’t wipe you out of energy for the rest of the day. This is especially important if you are a morning trainer like me, and you have to go to work afterwards.
Can you Lose Weight by Walking an Hour a Day?
If you are hill Walking on demanding terrain for an hour a day, then yes. If you are walking around town at a moderate pace, then it is unlikely. As we mentioned earlier, our bodies are extremely efficient at walking, and it is unlikely that you will burn enough calories to make a difference to your weight.
How much Weight can I lose in 1 Month by Walking?
Again, this is a difficult question to answer as there are so many factors to be considered. But it would be fair to say that almost everyone could lose a significant amount of weight if they went Hill Walking for a month.
Some of the factors that will effect your rate of weight loss are:
- Your Body Weight when you start Hill Walking
- How Hard you push yourself
- How difficult the terrain is
- How many hours you walk for
- How fast you walk
- How much extra weight you carry
- Your diet
Tips to Lose More Weight when Hill Walking?
So as you can see, from all the points we have covered and the questions we have answered above, you can and will lose weight by Hill Walking. However, there are a few ways to lose more weight when Hill Walking:
- Carry a Heavy Backpack
- Walk as Fast as the Terrain will allow
- Take tougher routes with steep climbs
- Consume Less Calories
- Walk for longer distances
- Walk for more hours
To sum up then, Hill Walking is an enjoyable, healthy, affordable and efficient way to lose weight. So why not give it a try and see how it works for you?