Hiking VS Running: Which Is Better for Your Personal Situation?

Are you an adventurous person who loves the outdoors and wants to stay active but cannot decide between hiking vs. running? Both activities are beneficial for your health, but one may be better depending on what you want to achieve.

When it comes to staying active, there is no wrong choice. Here, you will find all the necessary information to make that decision based on your personal situation and goals.

The Definition of Hiking and Running

Hiking is a long, energetic walk, done anywhere in nature, whether it’s the countryside or the mountains. Usually, there is a specific place you want to reach when you go hiking, like a mountain peak. Going on hikes alone is not advisable since it can be dangerous.

If you decide to visit those far away or hard-to-reach places, you would also need special hiking gear. But, in other cases, you can easily do it in your sports clothes and comfortable shoes.

For the best hiking experience, you would have to be well prepared. Therefore, it is necessary to check the weather forecast, find the right route, and pack your backpack thoroughly.

Running is a fast movement where, unlike walking, at times, neither of your feet are touching the ground. Unlike hiking, running can be done outdoors and indoors on a treadmill.

You may be jogging, running at a slower pace depending on the speed. Or you could sprint, which is extremely fast. Running is often associated with a healthy lifestyle. It is also considered the most accessible sport since you can do it almost anywhere and require no special equipment.

Even though it can be done almost anywhere, it doesn’t mean it should be. The ground is much better terrain for running than concrete or asphalt.

Hiking Pros and Cons

Pros of Hiking

  • Hiking is a great cardio workout. It can lower your risk of heart disease and significantly improve your blood pressure and blood sugar levels. In addition, since it is a low-intensity workout, it is a great fat-burning exercise. It can also strengthen your core, the muscles of your glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps, and lower legs.
  • Hiking can improve your mental health by reducing stress and anxiety. In addition, being in nature has been shown to lower the risk of depression and other mental disorders.
  • Hiking can be a fun family activity. Since it is not highly demanding, it can be an excellent educational experience for your kids. In addition, it can allow your whole family to feel a better connection to nature through breathing in the fresh air and simply enjoying the scenery.
  • Hiking motivates you to travel to other places, away from your usual, well-known paths. The more you hike, the more places you want to visit and “conquer.”

Cons of Hiking

  • While nature is beautiful, it can also be dangerous. There is always the risk of wild animals appearing, like snakes or foxes.
  • The terrain itself can be dangerous depending on the weather conditions. The paths can be slippery, narrow, or even barely visible.
  • There is an increased risk of injury since you are in an unknown, wild place. In addition, if something unforeseen happens, it is not very comforting to know that you are in the middle of a forest and that the help you need cannot arrive quickly.
  • You can easily get lost. Sometimes the paths are not correctly marked, and a few wrong turns can lead you off the beaten track. Often it’s challenging to get a cell signal in nature, and you might be stuck for a while.
  • It takes a long time. Since it is a low or moderate-intensity exercise, and the terrain is usually not very smooth, it can take a long time to pass a particular mileage.

Running Pros and Cons

Pros of Running           

Cons of Running

To Sum Up the Pros and Cons

To better understand the pros and cons of hiking vs. running, check out the infographic provided below.

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How to Decide Between Hiking and Running

There are many things to take into account before making this decision. Both are great outdoor activities with significant health benefits, but the decision should rest solely on your goal.

Go hiking if:

  • You prefer a long, low-intensity workout.
  • You like to spend your time in nature and explore new places.
  • You want a fun and safe activity for you and your family.

Go running if:

  • You prefer a fast, higher intensity workout.
  • You want to burn a lot of calories.
  • You want to be able to exercise in any weather condition.

Final Thoughts on Hiking vs. Running

There are many similarities between the two exercises, but the minor differences may be the deciding factor. Both activities do not require costly gear, and they are both excellent for your physical health.

Take your current health, fitness goals and how much time you have to dedicate to this activity into consideration. If you are still unsure, try hiking first, and if you find it too slow or unchallenging, slowly make the switch to running. However, if you want to start running right away, check out this simple guide to running for beginners.

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