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How Hiking Burns More Calories than Walking

Carl Buhler

Brig Gen Carl Buhler, a University of Oklahoma, College of Professional and Continuing Studies alumnus, has nearly three decades of experience serving in the US Air Force (USAF). He is currently stationed at the Air Combat Command (ACC) headquarters in Hampton, Virginia. When not busy with his professional duties, Carl Buhler enjoys engaging in outdoor activities such as hiking.

As far as exercises go, many consider hiking similar to walking, but the two forms of exercise couldn’t be any more different. University of Florida engineering and bio-mechanics professor Daniel Ferris explains the difference in terms of physics. Walking, according to Ferris, requires lesser effort, as the level surface puts the body in a state of passive dynamics. Like with a swinging pendulum, the body can keep moving back and forth for a long period of time without the need for any additional energy input.
On the other hand, hiking requires a person to traverse uneven terrain, thereby disrupting this energy transfer. To compensate, the body increases the heart and metabolic rate, which in turn results in more calories burned. In fact, Ferris’ study concluded that the body uses 28 percent more energy when hiking when compared to walking on flat ground.

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