Your Guide for Deciding Between Hiking and Running

Being outdoors is a great way to get exercise. There are so many different types of activities to choose from that sometimes you want to know the pros and cons between the two. A common one of these comparisons is between running and hiking.

Does hiking provide a better workout compared to running? Are there different benefits that I am not considering between the two? By understanding the key differences and benefits between hiking and running, you will be able to confidently decide on which activity is the best fit for you.

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Points to consider before deciding between the two

While both exercise types are great ways to see nature, enjoy time with friends, and get your heart rate up, it can still be difficult to decide between the two. Here are a couple of differentiating points to consider before making your choice:

  • You get to burn calories at different rates

If you are more focused on burning calories, both activities can accomplish this. According to studies by Harvard Medical School, hiking for 30 minutes will help you burn 266 calories while running for the same amount of time will have you burning up to 355 calories. With that being said, it is easy to compensate your duration and level of difficulty to get to the desired amount of calories burned.

The benefit of burning calories while you hike is that you get to do so by climbing a mountain, which will be rewarded with (hopefully) a view at the end. On the other hand, running allows you to set your pace so you can burn calories at whatever speed you want. You are also able to go for a quick run around your house, while hiking does not usually provide this luxury.

  • You achieve physical and mental fitness different ways

Almost everyone wants to be physically fit nowadays, and both hiking and running can accomplish this goal. The United States Department of Health and Human Services for optimal fitness suggests up to 75 minutes of vigorous activities per week or 150 minutes of moderate exercise (aerobic) per week.

Both hiking and running can easily help you reach this level of fitness. It will be easier to achieve this by simply taking off on a run around your house, compared to driving to a mountain to hike. Dont over do it to begin with though and get proper fitting footwear so you don’t get blisters!

Therefore, if you want to stay fit (or get fit) as quickly as possible, running will be your choice. If you want to take in more sights and explore more while you get in shape, hiking would be best for you.

Staying fit also has its health benefits. Regular exercise helps reduce elderly’s chances of having coronary heart diseases and strokes. The younger people will reduce their chances of contracting diseases such as diabetes, obesity, and high blood pressure. One statistic shows that runners reduce their risk of heart disease by 4.5% if they run an hour a day.

  • You can unplug and get alone time in different spots

Lastly, a great benefit of hiking and running is that you have the chance to get alone time (for you introverts) or you can invite a friend (for the extroverts). This allows you time to think through life, unplug from your phone, and slow down.

Getting time to get away and think will be much easier when you are hiking since there are not a bunch of distractions around you. When you run, you will see people you know, be reminded of chores you have to do, and your phone will continue to ring.

Running and hiking shed different lights on each of these benefits. They have different ways and times to accomplish each goal. When decided between the two, ask yourself which option is a better fit for you.


There are many benefits to both forms of activities, but it is ultimately up to you to see which one is a better fit. When trying to decide, ask yourself a couple questions about how/where you want to burn calories, how you want to achieve physical and mental health, and if you truly want to unplug in nature or just get some alone time around your neighborhood.

One practical way to help make your decision is to take a couple weeks to go on some hikes and then a couple more to try running. This will give you a little taste of each so that you can have know what you are getting into prior to deciding.

There is no right or wrong answer when deciding between the two and there is no rule that says, “You cannot split your time between the two types”. So, enjoy nature however you want and keep pushing for a fit life.

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Justin Archer
Hi, I'm Justin Archer a family man with 2 boys and a wife. I'm an outdoorsman who loves hunting, fishing, hiking and lots of other outdoor activities. I love testing new outdoor gear, learning new things and passing on the knowledge I have gained. Feel free to contact me anytime -

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