Running allows you to burn more fat than hiking.
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Your body uses the calories you ingest to power normal processes like breathing and muscle movement. If you take in too many calories, the unused portion is turned into fat. Exercising is a great way to use up these stored calories and burn away that excess fat. Running and hiking are examples of physical activities that can help you lose weight. Running is the more efficient method, as it burns more calories per hour.
To burn fat, you will need to create a calorie deficit. This means that you will have to perform activities that require your body to use up more calories than you take in via your diet. To balance out this calorie deficit, your body will metabolize fat into useful energy. Exercise is an effective way to cause a calorie deficit and burn fat. Each week, adults need at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity, according to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention. Moderate-intensity exercises include brisk walking, while more intense workouts consist of running or jogging. You should also add at least two days of muscle-strengthening exercises that work out your legs, hips, back, chest, shoulders, arms and abdomen.
As with almost any exercise, your weight influences the number of calories your body uses up while running. A 200-pound adult running at 5 mph can burn 905 calories per hour, Mayo Clinic reports. If you can run slight faster, around 8 mph, you can burn 1,074 calories. If you are not comfortable running at these speeds for a whole hour, mix in some jogging or even some walking. Try to slowly build up your endurance. If you experience any dizziness, difficulty breathing or chest pain, immediately stop exercising and consult a physician.
Your body weight and the type of trail you choose determine the number of calories you burn while hiking. Steeper, more challenging trails will lead to greater energy expenditure. On average, a 200-pound adult will burn around 546 calories while hiking for an hour. Though hiking does burn fewer calories, and thus less fat, it does help you build balance, flexibility and strength in the muscles of your legs and back, "Prevention" magazine explains. If you carry a pack, hiking also helps strengthen your shoulders.
Which One Should You Choose?
Both running and hiking offer unique benefits, as does incorporating a variety of physical activities into your lifestyle. In other words, you don't have to choose one over the other. Running on some days and hiking on others can enhance enjoyment by staving off a sense of tedium and work various muscle groups differently. If you have joint issues due to a condition such as arthritis, hiking and other lower-impact activities, such as swimming and yoga, could be your best option most often. If you're unsure which activity makes the most sense given your health needs, consult your doctor. Otherwise, consider weaving both into an overall healthy lifestyle.