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Is Hiking a Sport? Find Out Here!

It is easy to call hiking many things as it is one of the few activities that seem to intertwine with many exercises. However, there has never been any clear-cut answer on whether hiking as an activity is a sport. While most experts do not like to consider it a sport, few believe that its nature falls into the broad definition of what sport is considered to be. This guide will let you know whether hiking is a sport and the supporting reasons for our stance.

Why Hiking is Considered a Sport

The main reason many people believe that hiking is a sport is because of its anaerobic nature.

Most aerobic and anaerobic activities are often exercises that are connected with sports. From sprinting to marathon running and weightlifting, they are all recognizable sports. It is this same reason hiking related to activities like running and jogging is termed a sport. In fact, for many, hiking is an activity that can turn into a full-fledged sport when done regularly and with great intensity.

However, does the fact that hiking is considered physical activity and legit exercise make it a sport? The answer is no. Hiking is not a sport and won’t be except it is formally recognized as an official sports activity by any professional sports body.

Actually, think about it more properly. For an activity or exercise to be considered a sport, it has to have two main features

  • Formal rules and regulations that are globally recognized.
  • A source of entertainment that draw spectators and revenue

Hiking does not bring any of these to the table, so it is not a sport. If you are wondering if it is a legit form of exercise, it is, but it is definitely not a sport. However, it can become a sport if professional bodies decide to approve it. There are ways it can be modified for it to become a sport and draw reasonable followership.

Two hikers in mountains

Does Hiking Have Sports Benefits?

This is a really good question because hiking has real sports benefits. It is a no-brainer that all committed sports persons are fit, ripped, and shredded. These common features also exist with avid hikers. Many people who commit to the trail eventually become fitter, healthier, and even develop some muscles. This particular reason is why hiking is sometimes considered a sport.

Hiking offers numerous benefits for the body, both physical and mental, which are generally the benefits that sports actually offer. So while you may not be so excited that hiking is not a sport, you can still feel like a real sportsman when you commit to it.

Many athletes like hiking because of its benefits, which shows that it is not inferior. Many sports people enjoy hiking simply because it allows them to become one with nature, even if it’s just for a few hours each week. The serenity of being in a natural environment without a cell phone or internet connection is unparalleled and may aid in relaxation and concentration for athletes.

Here are some of the major ways hiking can benefit your overall health, like any sports activity.

Weight Loss

Experts recommend that people seeking to lose weight commit to exercise and diet. While these two commitments are a no-brainer, you would be overlooking outdoor hiking if you don’t consider it as a real exercise.

While traditional exercise activities can be difficult to maintain consistently, hiking provides a low-impact way to burn calories while enjoying the outdoors. The inclines and terrain changes make it more challenging than walking on a flat surface, allowing you to enjoy a greater calorie burn.

You can take advantage of this and use hiking to lose weight faster. You can easily incorporate hiking into your exercise schedules and reap the rewards of overall well-being and increased energy levels.

Improved Cardiovascular Health 

Hiking can help improve cardiovascular health as it is an anaerobic activity that continuously boosts your heart rate. Research has shown that regular aerobic exercise can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by up to 20%.

You can benefit greatly by introducing regular hiking into your fitness plan. It helps to strengthen and improve your cardiovascular health as it is an exercise that raises the heart rate and challenges endurance levels.

Studies have also shown that regular hikes can reduce cholesterol levels while increasing Vitamin D production and strengthening the respiratory system overall.

Group of hikers

Improves Lung Capacity 

While hiking has long been a favorite exercise for maintaining good cardiovascular health, current studies have shown that it can also help increase your lung capacity. This benefit makes hiking the perfect sport activity.

The physical activity involved in hiking helps increase the amount of oxygen circulating throughout your body. This increases lung capacity, allowing you to stay active for longer periods with more intense effort.

A study on hiking published in the Journal of Applied Physiology noted that high-intensity, short-duration hikes significantly increased lung capacity compared to lower-intensity hikes. Athletes hiked at various inclines, with an average of 10.3% elevation change during the more strenuous hikes and no changes in elevation during the less intense ones.

With increased lung capacity, athletes are known to be able to perform longer and harder with less fatigue due to improved oxygen absorption. So whether you’re looking for a stunning view or just some much-needed conditioning, take your next hike up a few notches; it could do your lungs some good!

Stress Relief 

Spending time in nature is a great way to relax and unwind from everyday life. Hiking allows you to take in stunning views, listen to wildlife, clear your head, and get much-needed fresh air. This can help reduce stress levels, improve mental clarity and enhance overall well-being.

You can turn to hiking for a stress-relieving activity. The great outdoors provides a source of calming energy off the court and out of the gym that can be used to refocus and reenergize purpose and life goals.  Many hikers find themselves able to focus more deeply after a few hours spent in nature.

Connecting with one’s self and leaving behind the hustle of daily life has been demonstrated to help clear the mind. With a combination of mental clarity and physical preparedness, You can achieve a better view of life, and that is what hiking gives you when it takes away the stress. And then, there are all the positive physical effects like increased strength, improved metabolism, and greater agility.

Strengthen Muscles

Hiking is an excellent way to achieve better strength levels and physical conditioning. Since hiking involves walking with an additional weight (your backpack), it serves as a great way to strengthen the muscles of your legs, core, and arms. The uneven terrain also helps build strength throughout your body as you adjust your balance with each step.

Studies suggest that hiking can reduce fatigue and improve overall strength by working muscles all around the body. You can take advantage of a hike’s natural inclines, levels, and turns, effectively replicating the muscle-building movements used in weight lifting.

Additionally, because of the uneven surface of the terrain, foot muscles are worked more than on other forms of flat land exercise, resulting in improved balance, coordination, and agility – ideal for athletes seeking optimum performance.

Woman hiking

Increased Endurance

As you start to hike regularly, your endurance will increase. This means you’ll be able to walk for longer periods and cover more ground with each session. The increased fitness levels can then help you take on more challenging hikes in the future.

For athletes looking for an effective way to build endurance, hiking is an excellent option. Hiking offers a full-body workout that targets not just the leg muscles but also those in the abdomen and back, making it a great choice for athletes hoping to increase their stamina and strengthen their entire body.

With its various inclines, slopes, and terrains, hiking can present a challenging workout suitable for pros and beginners. Athletes of all levels can find enjoyment in the outdoors as they test their limits by exploring different regions and terrain types while building strength within their bodies. The experience of going on a hike is sure to be something that is both stimulating and rewarding.

Final Thoughts

It is clear that hiking is not a sport. Sports are well-defined, official activities with clear rules. The bottom line of all sports is to entertain fans. Hiking currently does not offer that and cannot be classified as a sport. However, it does have multiple benefits similar to the best sports. The sports benefits of hiking make it a great activity for anyone looking to improve their physical health.

It is not just about sports benefits, though, as hiking is also a great way to get aerobic exercise while enjoying beautiful scenery simultaneously. So, why not pick up your hiking boots and step up your session a notch to enjoy muscle-building benefits?

With so many amazing trails available, it’s easy to find one that suits your skill level and enjoy the experience! Start exploring today and reap all the wonderful benefits of hiking.

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