Hitting the gym is a great way to burn calories and lose that belly fat. But what if the inside of a gym has become too sore of a sight to you? You can always dash outdoors for a journey in the woods.

But then the question becomes – will hiking help you in your goal of reducing belly fat?

Hiking is generally considered by experts as the best exercise to burn body fat. So to address your question – yes, you’ll notice a considerable reduction in belly fat when you hit the trails. It engages different sets of muscles that the gym may miss like the deep core muscles, the back, and outer thighs. This pushes your body to dip into those fat reserves to provide the much needed energy to keep moving.

And this all has to do with the fact that hiking, by nature, is a high duration and low-intensity activity – just the kind that the body needs to better burn stored fat.

There is More to it

Going on a hike helps you lose that belly fat. But there is another benefit – being out in nature has a tremendous positive impact on your brain. And it doesn’t take hours for this to kick in. All you need is 5 minutes outdoors.

There is research to back this up.

The University of Kansas and the University of Utah found out in a study that backpackers showed a remarkable improvement in a creativity test – up to 50% – after four days in nature away from all the glitz that comes with technology.

So on top staying fit and shedding that belly fat, you also get to rejuvenate those creative juices that had somehow been dried up by endless hours of screen glare.

That’s beside the point though. Back to our main focus of fat burn…

How Many Calories Can You Burn When Hiking?

The answer – it depends. Each one of us is different and as with any other exercise, the gains will vary from one person to another. So the number of calories you burn – and therefore the amount of belly fat you reduce – will be different as compared to that of the next guy.

Here are a few factors that come into play.

1. The Duration of Your Hike and Your Weight

Hiking is about supporting your weight for a given duration over a long distance – for a larger part. So if you score higher on the scales, you’re likely to burn more calories than a less heavy person hiking for the same duration.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), someone who’s 154 pounds will burn approximately 370 calories hiking for an hour in a moderate environment.

2. The Nature of The Terrain

This goes without saying – you’re going to spend more energy and hence burn more calories hiking in a mountainous region than you would on a fairly flat surface. The Journal of Experimental Biology mentions that we use up to 28% more energy to cover uneven ground.

And that means rough terrains can considerably accelerate the rate at which you get rid of that belly fat.

3. Additional Weight

It’s not only your body weight that matters when hiking. What you’re stringing along with you in your backpack can have a considerable impact on the number of calories you’ll burn, and consequently the amount of belly fat you’ll reduce.

Simply put, the more additional weight you carry, the more calories you are going to burn.

Tips for Reducing Belly Fat When Hiking

As with pretty much every exercise, going into hiking blindly will do you no good. You will still cut down that belly fat but that might come at the expense of minor injuries on your side. Use the following tips to stay on the safe side while reducing as much belly fat as possible.

1. Start Small

Just like you don’t start weight training with plate sets of say 130 pounds, you cannot kick off your hiking journey by going for the steepest hill. The exhaustion will be unbearable and, worse, might make you reconsider your decision to hike.

Start with a gentle slope at an easy pace and build on as you get more comfortable.

2. Vary Your Walking Up And Down A Terrain

The pace you go with here will depend on whether you’re on a downhill or uphill hike. Try a faster pace when going up and slow down when you descend.

That way, you’ll be putting your muscles under more pressure to perform which is just about what you need to burn those calories and do away with the belly fat.

3. Consider Incorporating Hiking Poles

Hiking poles seem like fancy possessions but they can go a long way in improving your hiking experience – and the resultant gains.

According to a study published in 2008 in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, trekking poles had a positive effect on the number of calories burned while making the participants feel like they were doing the same amount of work.

4. Try Packing More Weight

As already mentioned, the additional weight you carry in your backpack increases the number of calories you’ll burn. So why not increase it a bit? Fill that bag with something you’ll need later – water, for instance. For every hour that you’ll be hiking, have about a quarter a gallon.

Apart from water and hiking poles, hiking socks are just as important.  Have a look at these top 5 best hiking socks.

Happy Hiking, Here’s to Reduced Belly Fat

Hiking is the best way to lose belly fat and get your brain teeming with new ideas. But then just how much fat you’ll lose will depend on a host of factors.

The most important thing is to know to go about it right. And that’s exactly what this post is all about. Get out there and get into shape while appreciating nature’s beauty – or the serenity if you’re hiking at night.

Happy hiking!

Kelvin Mwathi