Planning on hiking for some exercise? Well, you might be wondering – is hiking aerobic or anaerobic? The answer may surprise you. Contrary to popular belief, hiking is not strictly an aerobic activity. Depending on the terrain and your fitness level, hiking can also be an anaerobic workout. So what’s the difference, and which one is better for you? Keep reading to find out.
Is Hiking Aerobic or Anaerobic? (Explained)
The simple answer is: it can be both! How? If you are hiking at a moderate pace and not pushing yourself too hard, then it is considered to be aerobic exercise. This means that your body is using oxygen to produce energy, and your heart rate is at a level that is safe for sustained exercise. On the other hand, if you are pushing yourself hard – climbing steep hills or sprinting up the trail – then this would be considered anaerobic exercise. This is when your body is producing energy without oxygen, and your heart rate is much higher.
Let’s discuss what both are in a bit more detail.
What Is Aerobic Exercise?
Aerobic exercise is any type of activity that uses large muscle groups and can be maintained for an extended period of time. This type of exercise improves your cardiovascular system and strengthens your heart and lungs.
When you are performing aerobic exercise, your body uses oxygen to create energy, and your heart rate is at a safe level for sustained exercise. This means you can keep going for a long time without getting too tired.
Aerobic exercise typically includes activities like walking, yoga, jogging, biking, swimming, and hiking. As long as you are maintaining a moderate pace and not pushing yourself too hard, these activities are considered to be aerobic.
What Is Anaerobic Exercise?
Anaerobic exercise is a type of activity performed at a high intensity for a short time. This type of exercise does not use oxygen to create energy, and your heart rate will be much higher than it would be during aerobic exercise.
Anaerobic exercise is typically performed in short bursts, such as during a sprint or when lifting weights. Some examples of anaerobic exercise include sprinting, weightlifting, plyometrics, and HIIT (high-intensity interval training). These activities are not meant to be sustained for long periods of time, and you will likely get very tired very quickly.
So, how can hiking be considered anaerobic? Simple. If you are pushing yourself hard enough, such as by sprinting up a hill or climbing a steep trail, your body will not be able to use oxygen to create energy. This means your heart rate will increase, and you will get tired very quickly. While this might sound like a bad thing, it’s actually not. Anaerobic exercise is great for building strength and improving your cardiovascular system. So the next time you consider taking on a challenging, high-elevation hike, don’t be afraid to push yourself!
Aerobic & Anaerobic Benefits Of Hiking
Now that you know a bit more about the difference between aerobic and anaerobic exercise, let’s discuss the benefits of each.
Aerobic exercise, such as hiking at a moderate pace, has many benefits. This type of exercise:
- Improves your cardiovascular system
- Lowers blood pressure
- Helps to control weight
- Reduces your risk of heart disease
- Improves mental health
Anaerobic exercise, such as sprinting or climbing hills, has many benefits as well. This type of exercise:
- Builds strength
- Increases endurance
- Improves speed
- Burns calories at a faster pace
So, which type of exercise is better for you? That depends on your goals. Aerobic exercise is the way to go if you want to improve your cardiovascular system or lose weight. However, anaerobic exercise is the way to go if you want to build strength or increase your speed.
Both types of exercise are important and have their own set of benefits. Mixing things up is the best way to get the most out of your hiking workout. Alternate between aerobic and anaerobic activities, such as walking and sprinting, to challenge your body in different ways. This will help you to improve your overall fitness level and avoid boredom.
Hiking is a great way to get both aerobic and anaerobic exercise. By mixing things up and challenging yourself, you can reap all of the benefits that hiking offers.
How Do You Know if You Are Staying Aerobic While Hiking?
Monitoring your heart rate is the best way to know if you are staying aerobic. If your heart rate stays below 140 beats per minute, then you are in the aerobic zone.
There are a few different ways to monitor your heart rate while hiking. You can use a fitness tracker, such as a Fitbit, Apple Watch, or Samsung Watch (which is what I use). Alternatively, you can take your pulse manually. To do this, place your index and middle fingers on the inside of your wrist, just below the base of your thumb. Count your pulse for 15 seconds and then multiply by 4 to get your beats per minute.
If you don’t have a fitness tracker and don’t want to take your pulse manually, there is another way to tell if you are staying aerobic. This method is called the talk test. If you can carry on a conversation without gasping for breath, then you are probably staying in the aerobic zone. However, if you are so out of breath that you can’t speak more than a few words at a time, then you are probably working too hard and have moved into the anaerobic zone.
It is also important to listen to your body. If you are feeling tired, take a break. As far as risk to your body is concerned – It is better to hike at a lower intensity for a longer period of time than it is to push yourself too hard and risk injury.
So, is hiking aerobic or anaerobic? The answer is a little bit of both. Depending on the intensity of your hike, you’ll be alternating between aerobic and anaerobic exercise.
If you’re looking to get a good workout in, aim to hike at a vigorous pace that will increase your heart rate. This will help ensure that you’re getting an anaerobic workout. However, if you’re short on time or just looking for a leisurely stroll in nature, there’s no need to worry – even a slow hike can offer some health benefits and can be considered an aerobic activity.