Hiking for Weight Loss: Helpful Methods to Maximize Your Work-Out

By Cassandra Plant

Hiking is an activity that can accommodate different levels of fitness expertise. It can also help you unlock fun and an effective way to lose weight. What is more, just thirty minutes of hiking can help a 154 lb person burn 185 calories, based on the data of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. So if you’re planning to hit the Rocky Mountains and start your weight loss journey, there are some helpful strategies you can employ.

Condition Your Environment

When it comes to weight loss, it’s not your willpower that makes you fail—it’s your environment. If you’re planning to incorporate hiking in your life, you need to condition your environment to ensure your success. Sights, smells, and the organization of your surroundings can help you make good choices, says Susan Biali Haas, M.D. For example, putting up images of ideal hiking spots, like the Fountain Valley Trail or the Manitou Springs Incline can serve as a great inspiration. Also, preparing your hiking gear beforehand, and eliminating sugary temptations can help keep your mindset on a positive and sustained path toward weight loss. If you make your environment visibly support your goals, the less chance you have of slacking.

Pack Water

Hydration is important, if you’re planning on hiking to lose weight. But it’s especially important in Colorado as humidity levels can sometimes drop below 30%. People who drink water while doing strenuous activities burn 2% to 3% more calories than those that don’t, according to a study by Girona, Grasser, Dulloo, and Montani. Also, if you add around 4 quarts of water in your backpack, you’ll be able to add around 8 lbs of weight. That added weight can increase your caloric burn by 17%, says George Padilla of the Los Angeles Athletic Club. So having water with you on a hike helps you pack in your weight loss opportunities.

Speed Up and Slow Down Properly

If you’re new to hiking, you may want to ease in on this method. Once you’re used to hiking, you can try speeding up your pace to increase your heartbeat and your caloric burn. This is particularly helpful if there are any uphill sections to your hiking trail. On the flip side, if there are any downhill sections, you can try slowing down your descent. Walking down slower on a slight incline makes your muscles work harder, says Chuck Pelitera, M.D. So applying speed and slowness in appropriate amounts help you better shed pounds during your hikes.

Hiking is an activity that marries physical activity and incredible sights. If losing weight through hiking is your goal, you need to make sure that you do what you can to ensure your success. Being proactive with a few key things can mean all the difference between meeting your goals and losing your motivation altogether.