Hiking is a great way to pursue fitness and feel good about yourself. It is also a well-proven exercise that helps build endurance and reduce excess fat over time. This is why like most exercises, there have been questions on whether it can be classified as aerobic or anaerobic.
Anaerobic and aerobic exercises tend to be at the two ends of the exercise spectrum as they are opposite. While some people prefer one, others are more comfortable with the other, so placing an exercise or fitness activity like hiking in its right category is essential and begs the question.
A simple answer to whether Hiking is aerobic or anaerobic is that it is the former. However, it is not purely aerobic, as it has a mix of anaerobic activities. Continue with this guide to learn more about Hiking and which category it falls into.
What is an Aerobic Exercise?
Aerobic exercise is a common exercise that fully depends on oxygen supply. It puts a strain on your oxygen supply, but its demand for air still does not exceed the rate at which it is being supplied.
More Formally, Aerobic exercise is any physical activity that uses large muscle groups and causes your body to use more oxygen than it would while resting.
Aerobic exercises aim to increase your cardiovascular fitness by strengthening your heart and lungs and improving your body’s ability to use oxygen. Some common aerobic exercises include walking, short running, swimming, and dancing.
Aerobic exercise can be performed for moderate or vigorous intensity levels, depending on your fitness level and goals. However, it is mostly in the Moderate-intensity spectrum. It would make you breathe harder, but you will still be able to carry on a conversation.
Even the more vigorous-intensity option will still let you mumble some words, even though you will definitely have to breathe harder.
What is an Anaerobic Exercise?
While Aerobic exercise depends on oxygen, Anaerobic does not. Anaerobic exercise is a more strenuous physical activity that breaks down glucose for energy without using oxygen. This means that Anaerobic exercises are so strenuous and high in intensity that they beat the rate at which oxygen is supplied.
Examples of anaerobic exercise include sprinting, high-intensity interval training and weightlifting. As can be clearly seen, all these are very intense exercises and can only be performed for a short period of time.
You may not have noticed, but do you know that you do not really breathe much when you burst into a sprint? You subconsciously hold your breath and just breeze away until you get tired and can no longer maintain the pace. This is what is meant by Anaerobic exercise not requiring oxygen.
Anaerobic exercises are of high intensity and improve speed and power. They depend on raw energy and high-level stamina to power through. The anaerobic energy system is the primary source of energy during short-duration, high-intensity activities such as sprinting or lifting weights.
This system relies on the breakdown of stored glycogen to produce ATP. While the anaerobic energy system is very efficient, it can only sustain maximal effort for a short period. After about 30 seconds, the body begins to rely on the aerobic energy system to produce ATP.
So Is Hiking Aerobic or Anaerobic?
Obviously, Hiking is not the most intense exercise and qualifies more as a moderate aerobic exercise. In fact, you could consider Hiking as a long form of walking as that is what it basically is. Hiking has all shades of aerobic exercise. You can keep up with discussion, maintain your pace for a good spell and have a balanced oxygen supply and demand.
However, Hiking is not just pure aerobic. You can place it as 90% Aerobic and 10% anaerobic because it does build muscles to an extent. Avid hikers are the biggest beneficiaries of muscle building in their legs. Hiking actively engages every muscle of the leg and develops them with time. Also, you will notice relative muscle development in your arms if you have hiking poles.
So, in essence, Hiking is mostly an aerobic exercise and a bit of anaerobic exercise. You will gain more cardio benefits from Hiking than anaerobic benefits, so you should know this before starting the process.
Is Hiking Enough Exercise?
Since Hiking is an aerobic exercise majorly and a moderate one at that, you are justified to wonder if it is enough of a fitness exercise on its own. Generally, losing weight via Hiking is a real thing. However, you will only start to see the weight loss effect only in the long term. So if you want to lose weight quickly or see a profound change in your physique, it is best to employ other exercises to complement your Hiking schedule.
Some great exercises you can try alongside hiking include:
Swimming: Swimming is a great way to cool off after a hike and provides a full-body workout. It is a popular exercise as it is easy to engage in, whether on a beach or while enjoying the outdoors in your backyard.
Biking: Biking is another great way to see the sights while getting some exercise. Biking can be done on trails or the road, and it’s a great way to work up a sweat. Biking could be aerobic or anaerobic. it depends on your pace.
Yoga: Yoga is a great way to stretch your muscles after hiking. There are many different types of yoga, so you can find one that suits your needs.
Pilates: Pilates is a type of exercise that emphasizes core strength and flexibility. It’s a great way to strengthen your muscles and can be done in classes or at home.
Strength Training: Strength training can help you build the muscles to power through long hikes. Endurance training can also be helpful, as it can help you build up your stamina and better withstand the demands of Hiking. And if you’re looking to improve your balance and coordination, adding some yoga or Pilates to your routine can be a great way to do that.
Ultimately, by mixing up your workout routine, you can ensure you’re always challenging your body in new ways and getting the most out of your fitness activities.
So here is all you need to know about hiking as an exercise. Clearly, the activity is more aerobic in nature than it is anaerobic. On its own, it is a perfect long-term fitness exercise for the long term that will develop muscles in areas that are not so obvious. However, adding a couple of exercises and strength training that work well with it can fill up the anaerobic lack and give you your desired fitness level.