The Effects of Hiking on Your Metabolism

Pine Creek North Fork, Temple Crag and a glacier in the background. This stunning view is about 5mi and 2700 ft up from the trail head. 
Hiking is essentially brisk walking through nature. Sometimes trails are flat, sandy and sometimes rocks are set likes stairs up switchbacks on the side of a mountain. Mechanically and kinesthetically speaking… You are a biological machine in nature utilizing O2 for energy (aerobic), the knees, and ankles need stability, and the quads and glutes need to be well trained in endurance, strength and power. The mind-body should be prepared to handle conditions like the potential for uneven terrain, long stretches of trail, and sometimes balancing or jumping.

If you are a person that can relate to wanting to feel the workout for days, getting out on a difficult trail will boost your ability to gain stability, endurance, strength and power. In the fitness world, we call this your GAINS. We all want GAINS… Every gain in one step becoming superhuman. You can also achieve gains within a gym and sticking to a customized personal program to help you enjoy your future hikes.

What about if you are super sore, like borderline “I don’t want to do this again”, or maybe because of an old injury? There are ways to rehabilitate your sore muscles, and loosen up any tight tendons causing the aches around joints. I personally have a knee issue, and I make sure I am always prepared to address it in my training habits. I don’t want to be out long away from what I love to do.

So your own unique metabolism is determined by what you eat, and how your body utilizes the energy for your body functions. From exercise to muscle recovery to the energy required to break down food. When you are recovering from demanding activity and movement of your body, your metabolism, that fire to burn the fuel, really gets going!

Wouldn’t you want the best, cleanest fuel to burn? If you pack organic, whole foods on the trail your body gets to burn through clean food. Like whole grain crackers, omega fatty acids in tuna or avocado, and turkey jerky for protein. Pack plenty of water and maybe add lemon and mint to help refresh you and give a dose of electrolytes.

My favorite lunch when hiking. Avocado, tuna with lemon salt and pepper scooped on whole grain crackers. Yumm! 
Of course you can burn quite a bit more calories on more demanding trails, or with a weighted backpack on. On a side note, training in elevation is great for cardiovascular training and increasing your VO2max but not a huge difference in caloric burn from the same intensity at lower elevations. Regardless of the elevation, drinking alkaline water will help deliver O2 to your exhausted muscles and keep your blood PH normal (lactic acid buildup causes our bodies to get a bit acidic).

My backpack with 15 lbs of baby, our 6mo old Andi Sage.
After a major demanding hike or adventure consider your recovery to be one with whole foods and extra protein to help repair muscles and tissue. If you would want to go further and add collagen to your meals, any inflammation due to damage or tired ligaments will have a boost to repair. Select spices and herbs can also help boost your body’s ability to repair, or ease achy-ness, and inflammation.

All this whole food eating with spices and herbs sounds delicious! Keeping habits like this can help you build a great foundation to eating just a bit healthier. From personal experience, my post-baby weight is starting to shed. By keeping a hiking schedule and completing my workout program in between the next time I hike, I have managed to build muscle and lose weight. You could too!


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