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How to Lose Weight Hiking

Updated on February 8, 2013
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If you want to really lose weight and keep it off, skip the trendy diets and the gym memberships. Hiking and backpacking is good for your mind, body, and your wallet.

Why it Works

  1. Fast paced, calorie burning exercises such as sprinting are fueled by carbohydrates stored in the body. While running is a great way to burn calories, it won’t use much of the fatty acids which are stored as adipose tissue (the flab that builds up around the stomach and thighs). Adipose tissue serves many functions, but too much of it increases health risks.

    The steady, prolonged aerobic activity of backpacking actually targets this adipose fat. Because there is time for the body to convert the fatty acids into fuel for its cells, this sort of exercise can drastically change the shape of your figure by reducing the amount of fat in the most difficult areas.

  2. Hiking and backpacking breaks your regular routine. Taking a week or more off for an extended backpacking trip gives you the perfect chance to change your lifestyle. Clearing out your fridge and your schedule for an extended trip will help you begin a fresh, healthy lifestyle even when you return.
  3. Endorphins released by physical activity will also reduce stress levels. The soothing natural environment, devoid of stresses like your boss and a messy house, will also positively affect your stress levels. Extended periods of stress takes a toll on mind and body, and contributes to weight gain.

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Getting Started

1) Invest in a solid pair of hiking shoes or hiking boots.

2) Work up to longer hikes and full backpacking trips through a series of shorter hikes.

  • Take every fourth day or so off to rest and let your muscles fully recover
  • Push yourself past what you think your limit is before taking a break

3) Research the area where you will hike and plan ahead.

Preparation is everything!

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Where to Hike

First of all, choose a beautiful trail, preferably with a nice view or two. Start with beginner hikes and move onto more difficult, and of course, longer hikes as you become more experienced. Trails with steeper climbs and changes in elevation are best for losing weight, and gaining muscle and endurance.

What to Eat

Even though you are trying to lose weight, do not skimp on snacks and meals while you are hiking or backpacking. You do not want to become weak or dizzy on the trail, especially if you are far away from help or at high altitudes.

  • Apples and almonds are a great healthy snack for the trail because they are easy to pack.
  • Avoid trail mix with excessive amounts of salt or chocolate. Not only is not very healthy, but the chocolate will melt and make a mess.
  • For backpacking trips you will need a lot of food, but you will also need to be conscious of the weight you are carrying. There are many freeze-dried, easy to prepare meals available.

As always, stay well hydrated. Invest in a Nalgene bottle, a camelback and water purifier if you plan on backpacking.

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    • FatBoyThin profile image

      Colin Garrow 2 years ago from Kinneff, Scotland

      I’m not what you’d call a ‘serious’ hiker but I do walk a lot and you’ve got some useful (and sensible) tips here that I think will help me get a bit fitter. Voted up.

    • recappers delight profile image

      recappers delight 5 years ago

      Two particular things I'd like to praise here:

      1. Your photography is quite lovely, and does a great job of selling the idea that hiking in the woods is the preferable way to exercise for weight loss.

      2. The explanation of how hiking targets adipose tissue is helpful and interesting. I might just have to go hiking with my husband some place pretty.

    • eHealer profile image

      Deborah 5 years ago from Las Vegas

      Hiking can burn some calories, and you can eat pretty much what you want. My husband and I bring peanut butter and a loaf of wheat bread and lots of water when we hike. I always lose a few pounds and have a great time. Thanks for the great read!