Can Hiking Get me in Shape?

Why you can Get in Shape, Quickly by Hiking

If you, like most of the world, have been stuck in the house due to Covid 19 and have put on a few pounds and gotten out of shape, you probably want to get back your fitness and tone up.

However, it’s not that easy to motivate yourself to hit the gym with all those sculpted bodies in there doing a bit of “fine tuning” and possibly looking over and judging you. So, what’s an easy way to get fit without feeling like you’re out of place and are being watched? How about going hiking to get in shape?

Why is going Hiking to Get in Shape Convenient?

Literally anyone can go hiking to get in shape. The whole world is abundant with tracks, trails, paths and roads. It doesn’t matter if you live in a remote location in the middle of nowhere, or in a major city, there is always somewhere nearby where you can go for a hike or a hill walk.

Going Hiking to get in Shape - Challenging Terrain

Hiking is available to anyone that is able to walk, hence the label of it being convenient. You can also go hiking at any hour of the day and in any weather, and the hike can be quickly planned and arranged to fit into any small or large block of time that you suddenly have available without much, or any specialist equipment.

Can Hiking to Get in Shape be Cost Effective?

It costs almost nothing to go for a hike, or at least it can, if you plan it that way. However, if you were to opt to go to a Gym instead, it could cost you a significant amount of money.

Most Gyms require you to take an induction, then sign up to a Monthly or Annual Subscription, the one’s that don’t, tend to charge a significantly higher “Pay as you go” premium in the cost of a session whenever you attend.

Taking the figures from the research I did for a recent post “6 Benefits of Training Outdoors“, the average cost of Annual Gym Membership in the UK is a touch under £500/Year, which is significant if you are a family of 3, like us, and you all like to stay in shape.

Of course there are many other Outdoor Pursuits other than Hiking that you could follow to get in shape, such as Climbing, Mountain Biking or entering Tough Mudder type competitions as many of my friends do, but they all have a cost implication associated with them far greater than Hiking.

If you want to save money and lose a few pounds (in weight), simply go hiking to get in shape.

What are the Psychological Benefits of Hiking?

The benefits to your state of mind from being outdoors are well documented. They include aspects such as:

  • Reduced Stress Levels
  • Increased levels of Dopamine and Serotonin (the feel good chemicals)
  • Walking in nature is proven to stave off depression
  • It promotes better sleep in those suffering from Insomnia
  • It reduces Anxiety
  • It clears Brain Fog
  • It promotes Self Confidence and Self Reliance
  • It boosts general mood if you are feeling low

What a great list of attributes right there. There are probably numerous other Psychological Benefits of Hiking too, but these main ones should be enough to get any Couch Potato up out of their armchair.

Can I get Plenty of Fresh Air on a Hike?

Going Hiking to get in Shape - Fresh Air

Spending too much time in stuffy or air conditioned offices, or walking around the busy polluted streets of major cities is not good for our general health. Our bodies were designed to run of fresh, clean air, not some artificial or polluted version of it.

Exerting ourselves and therefore taking in large amounts of clean, fresh air on a hike has enormous benefits for expanding our lungs and cleaning our blood by oxygenating it. This provides our Brain with the fuel it needs to think clearly, and it provides our muscles the blood supply they need to operate to full capacity and efficiency.

What are the Physical, Strength and Endurance Benefits of Hiking?

By going hiking to get in shape you are going to tone and build your muscles, get stronger and fitter and increase your capacity for hiking longer distances and for more hours.

The constantly varying terrain will exert your muscles in ways that our current sedentary lifestyles simply don’t do. Our muscles will be put under increased demand by stretching them, shortening them and even demanding that they produce accelerating or braking movements on demand. These movements and more are required to keep us in balance and upright on uneven and loose surfaces whilst hiking.

Using your muscles in this way will quickly get them leaner and stronger. Another added benefit will come from the fact that when most people hike, they carry a backpack of some description with Food, a change of Clothing and Safety Equipment such as a First Aid Kit. All of this is “Extra Weight” that we wouldn’t normally be carrying. This weighted exercise will rapidly improve your strength and endurance.

Is there Social Interaction when Hiking? (if you want it)

Going hiking to get in shape is a great way to meet like minded people (if you want to). Obviously not everyone wants to meet people, some people go out hiking for the solitude and some peace and quiet in nature. But for those of us who want to interact, there are lots of healthy, fit people out on the trails that we can chat to and swap information of the locations of trails and rest stops with.

Generally, everyone I meet on the trails is sociable, amiable and helpful. Almost everyone I pass will say hello and give information if asked. Hikers are usually fit, active people who care about the environment and themselves.

You could also meet like minded people who regularly hike by joining a Hiking Club. Hiking Clubs exist in almost every City and Town. They are made up of groups of Hikers who get together and discuss and plan routes to hike together. Probably the most famous Hiking Club is “The Ramblers Association”, but there are many smaller, less formal ones that you could quickly find in an online search for Hiking Clubs in your area.

Hiking is a great Social Activity where you have countless hours where you can chat and catch up on current affairs whilst getting fit and breathing clean, fresh air.

Does Hiking give you quicker Results than Other Forms of Exercise?

When I started Hiking again after my Knee Replacement, I was very surprised at how quickly I regained my full fitness. It wasn’t something that I had expected. Usually I’d do a lot of running if I was trying to get fitter, but this wasn’t going to be possible post operation.

I started out with some short hikes with my wife, and built up pretty quickly to long, tough hikes on more challenging terrain. I found that within 4-5 hikes I had gained back most of my strength and endurance. This was welcome, but unexpected. It is something I’ve looked into in my spare time since, and I was surprised that it is well documented that hiking will get you in shape quickly.

I found this excellent post on Web MD talking about exactly this:

Here’s logic that’s hard to argue with: If aerobic exercise is good for your health (it is) and the wonders of nature are myriad and beautiful (they are), then it follows that experiencing these marvels together would be a pretty desirable scenario (oh yes). As luck would have it, there’s a very simple way to achieve this miracle: It’s called hiking. So turn off your Blu-ray of Planet Earth, get over any of the excuses you may recognize from the list below and experience the majesty of Mother Nature first hand.

But… I’m WAY out of shape. This is actually a reason to hike, not an excuse not to. Hiking, which can include everything from walking a flat nature path to climbing Everest, enhances cardiovascular fitness and can lower blood pressure. “Going up and down hills gives the heart a great workout,” board-certified family physician and avid hiker Dr Ray Sahelian tells WebMD. You can read the full Post here.

Is Hiking a Good Way to get in Shape – Conclusion

If you’re feeling unfit and have managed to get yourself out of shape, then Hiking could be just the tonic you are looking for. You can make a hike, any hike, as easy or as difficult as you want or need it to be.

Hiking gives you the opportunity to get some healthy, fresh air, spend time in nature, switch off from the pressures or work and home life, meet people, get fit quickly and build endurance and a strong core.

Hiking is easy, it is fun and it is virtually free, so there’s no reason why hiking to get in shape shouldn’t be on your agenda.