Hiking vs Running – Which is a Better Exercise?

Hiking vs Running

When you first start working out, one of the first things to keep in mind is the type of exercise you want to do. Hiking and running are two of the most popular workouts you can choose. However, many people still debate that hiking is better than running.

Why is hiking better than running?

One of the main reasons for hiking better than running is that you don’t need to deal with so many issues. Running puts a lot of strain on your body and your joints, which does not bode well for you in the long run. Hiking is a steady and slow way to help you explore the world and improve your fitness at the same time.

To understand which one is better, you have to look at each of them individually. We have broken them down and tried to show you all the benefits and drawbacks of hiking and running. It should make it possible for you to determine if you will choose hiking or running as your fitness activity of choice.

What Is The Difference Between Hiking And Running?

Hiking and running are both great ways to get into shape, and you use both of them to improve your fitness. While hiking is much slower, you can go on for longer, which means you can eventually reach the same distance as running. It does not place as much stress on your body, and you can do it at your own pace.

While you can also run at your own pace, it is slightly faster, and the goal of running is to increase your heart rate. The faster you run, the faster your heart is beating. Once you reach a specific level, you should be able to burn fat consistently. However, you can only run for so long before your legs start to tire.

Many people believe that hiking is for the elderly, and this is far from the truth. Hiking is for everyone, and many people prefer it as a hobby. The intention is not always to lose weight, and some prefer hiking for sightseeing. Running is dedicated to fitness, and anyone who runs will have some fitness goal they want to achieve.


Hiking is one of the first things people can do. There is a saying that you should learn to walk before you run. It is true, and you cannot start running unless you understand some fundamentals of hiking. Compared to running, you can reduce the strain on your body, and you can also get into shape if needed.

However, hiking takes much longer. When running, you are bound to see an increase in fitness much faster. However, you will eventually have to take a break, and since not everyone can run every day, it is more consistent with hiking. The results for hiking will eventually come, but patience is the name of the game to achieve it.

Benefits of Hiking

Hiking can bring you plenty of benefits, and you must have a basic understanding of these benefits. These benefits are often smaller compared to running in the short term, but since you are doing it more frequently and consistently, the should eventually be more than you get from running once in a while:

  • Weight Loss: You might not lose weight as fast as you when running might, but you will notice that you start to shed a few pounds.
  • Lowers The Risk Of Heart Disease: Running is done more consistently, which means you can constantly reduce the risk of heart disease.
  • You Can Do It More Often: as mentioned, you will need to eventually take a break from running for your body to recover, but hiking can be done every day.
  • You Can See More Of The World: When running, the world goes by rather quickly. However, when you are hiking, you can stop and take everything in.
  • Improves Confidence: While running also improves confidence, hiking is geared towards doing it more often. As you are running, your body will release dopamine into the brain.

Drawbacks of Hiking

As mentioned, hiking is not perfect, and there are a few downsides to doing it regularly. However, it is far less than any other form of working out. Here are a few of these drawbacks:

  • Muscle Pain: One of the biggest issues you might run into is muscle pain associated with hiking.
  • It’s easy to give up: Since you are not getting the results as rapidly, it might be easier to give up.


Running, on the other hand, is great for losing weight rapidly. While it might not be easy at first, your fitness level will improve rapidly. Once you have achieved a certain level of fitness, you can push yourself to go further. Here are some of the main benefits of running:

Benefits of Running

Much like hiking, the fitness benefits of running are quite high. If you do it often, you should be able to get most of these benefits:

  • Weight Loss: As mentioned, running will allow you to shed weight much faster and reach your body composition goals.
  • Improved Fitness: Hiking can improve your fitness, but it takes much longer. You can achieve this more rapidly with running.
  • More Confidence: As you start to lose weight and with the dopamine released from running, you will often feel good.

Drawbacks Of Running

Unfortunately, there are also plenty of drawbacks associated with running, especially when it comes to your health.

  • Puts Strain On The Heart: In the long run, running can be great for your heart, but it will put a lot of strain on your heart when starting.
  • Muscle And Joint Pain: Muscle and joint pain is the real problem, and you will often find that you can easily get hurt.

Hiking vs Running Summary

Whether you choose to run or hike, both of them are sure to give you some benefits and ensure that you stay healthy. However, hiking is a slow-man game, and you will need to have patience if fitness is your goal. On the other hand, hiking will allow you to see the world much better, with plenty of trails to enjoy with friends or family.

Need Help Preparing for a Hike or Backpacking Trip?

Check out our Hiking Equipment Guide for Beginners.  It’s a complete list of gear that every beginner should have!


Hiking vs Running - Pinterest Graphic

Lee G.

I love the outdoors! Everything from hiking, climbing, rappelling, and caving.

Recent Posts