Hitting the gym daily is probably the best way to keep up your fitness level.
But it’s boring. Hiking comes across as a more adventurous and fun-filled hobby.
However, if you prefer to stay indoors, you’d want to do “gymming” instead.
Note: while the word “gymming” doesn’t sound right, we’ll use it in place of “working out.” Apologies!
So, Is Hiking a Better Hobby Than Going to The Gym?
I’d easily recommend hiking over “gymming.” Not that gym-based workouts are valueless, but because hiking comes with tons of benefits and can be fun compared to the typical monotonous workouts you’d complete in the gym.
Let me explain something: gymming is perfect for strength training.
If your main objective is to build muscles and gain strength, it would be wiser to pursue gymming as a hobby than anything else.
With the kind of weights and modern workout procedures, you can’t get it wrong.
Better yet, gymming can help you shed calories or fat and revamp your overall health.
However, hitting the trail is a bit more adventurous, and has been proven – as you will learn later in this section – to provide the same benefits as gymming, sometimes more.
Thirteen Reasons To Go With Hiking
Here are the top reasons why hiking is a more beneficial hobby:
1. It Helps You Lose Weight (or Avoid Gaining It)
Wouldn’t it be great to commit to a hobby that helps you stay fit or shed extra pounds without even trying? Hiking is one of those hobbies.
While you can embark on an array of workouts while on your hiking trip in the wild, combing the trail alone is enough to help you burn calories.
However, the total number of calories one can expect to get rid of through hiking depends on an array of factors, particularly the grade of the trail (how steep the trail is) and the individual’s weight.
Another thing worth mentioning – hiking is one of the most often recommended aerobic activities when it comes to fitness.
And since it normally drags for a long time, the body often takes in a lot of oxygen to use later for energy production.
To do that, it has to utilize some of the fat stored in your body. If you adhere to the right diet, hiking will get rid of much of your fat and help you stay in shape.
If you hike without taking into consideration the grade of the trail, you stand to burn up to 400 calories an hour.
If you make it a hobby and stick to 2 or 3-hour hiking trips often enough, it can be everything you need to burn that troublesome layer of fat you’ve been struggling to remove – more effective than jogging.
Hiking all by yourself, however, may not shed as many extra pounds as hiking in a group.
2. Plenty of Vitamin D
Hiking involves hitting the trail and staying out there in the open under the sun, eating your lunch in the park.
This sounds like something you’d only do in the summer when the weather is great for outdoor activities.
The best thing is that you get more exposure to the sun when hiking than when gymming.
The morning sun helps your skin produce Vitamin D which is good for your bones and teeth.
Let’s give credit where it’s due – gym exercise does help you stay fit.
But many people don’t know how underrated walking is when it comes to general health and fitness.
3. If You Want a Long Aerobic Exercise, Go Hiking
It is easy to think that strenuous gym-based workouts are all you need for perfect aerobic exercise but it doesn’t.
The low-level exercise you get from hiking can beat even the most strenuous workouts you could have in the gym if the approach is right.
Hiking produces more impressive results when it comes to steady blood flow, which is, in turn, integral for the delivery of nutrients and oxygen to your cells, helping speed up the repair of damaged tissues.
Also, another thing you are probably not privy to yet, but one that’s obvious, is that low-level pace exercise that comes with hiking burns way more fat than, say, spending hours in the gym with painful joints.
4. A Hobby You Can Pursue with A Good Company
People rarely go out to hike alone – what if you get lost?
But it’s perfectly normal, and common, to show up in the gym alone, complete a workout, and head home – that’s okay as well.
The best thing about hiking, however, is the fact that it brings together buddies with a common goal: get lost in the park or wild and just forget everything about normal living.
If you always enjoy the company of your friends, workmates, or any other group of folks close to you, hiking comes across as a more social hobby than gymming.
5. Hiking Is Good for Mental Exercise
When it comes to mental exercise, you are better off hiking than working out in the gym.
Think about – mental activity (sometimes referred to as “neurological stimulation”) can be anything that enriches or activates your mind.
You only exercise your mind by thinking or receiving stimulation from the environment.
When it comes to the environment, hiking trails offer a better 3D environment for your mind compared to the closed gym environment.
Furthermore, most of the activities involved in hiking are good for your mental exercise compared to simply lifting weights and doing press-ups.
It involves a lot of calculations:
- How many hours do you have to the next campsite based on your average pace?
- What’s the estimation of the remaining food and water? Will it sustain you for the remaining days?
- What’s the current time based on the position of the sun?
- What’s your weather prediction for tomorrow? (no smartphone apps)
If you are keen to keep your mind active, it only makes sense you take hiking as a hobby.
6. Safe, Low Impact Hobby
For those of us with weak bones or who don’t want to strain our skeleton but still want to stay fit, hiking comes through as a better alternative to the gym.
The best thing about hiking – and the fact that it is gentle on your bones – is that you can pursue it even in your senior years or when your bones are diseased.
7. Circadian Rhythm Alignment
One of the keys to healthy living is to obey your circadian rhythm or normal sleep cycle.
Hiking can be a perfect hobby for you if you plan to adjust your back to your normal sleeping cycle or you just want a fun hobby that adheres to it.
Organizing your daily activities around the sun is highly beneficial to the body as it lowers stress levels and ensures better sleep.
There is no way you’d stay up late into the night knowing you need to explore the longest trail in the region early the following morning.
Still, the precise planning involved can prove useful when you’re trying to be more responsible.
8. Dogs Are Allowed (even Parrots)
Come on Rex … let’s explore the wild!
If you adore your pets and would want them to accompany you everywhere, hiking can be a better hobby than going to the gym.
Pets need to exercise too, but there aren’t many gyms out there that would allow you to bring your canine friend along.
There’s one drawback to this though – the fact that you will need to carry lots of trail food and water to keep your dog hydrated and well-fed.
However, we rarely feel burdened by our own hydration packs and lots of dry fruit tuna packs for our trips, so dog food shouldn’t burden you either.
9. Let’s You Run Without Planning, Longer
While hiking hasn’t been recognized as a specific technique of training yet, ultimately, it is not running.
But it does involve a few instances of jogging or running especially when you are in the park and feel you need to stretch your legs or stretch your muscles a bit.
If you enjoy the occasional jog that comes with it, go ahead and make it your hobby.
But if a competitive race is around the corner and you are planning to set a record, hiking won’t be of any value to you.
In such a case, you may prepare better by combining gym workouts and no-nonsense cross country running.
People who walk for long distances and/or run often live longer than those who don’t.
In one study published in Archives of Internal Medicine, researchers documented about 1,000 adult runners aged between 50 and 70 years for 21 years. They found that 85% of them were OK and still kicking, while just 66% of the non-active runners were alive.
10. You Can Hike Anywhere, And Certainly Run or Walk as Long as You Want
It must be a pain to pay membership fees to use your local gym, isn’t it?
It can be even worse if you are about to embark on a vacation.
Another problem is that, unless you subscribe to a gym “franchise” with branches across the country, you’ll be compelled to pay for a workout in different establishments as you travel across the country.
Another thing – running will easily take you farther than gymming. As you might have realized, you can hike virtually anywhere on the planet.
There are literally hiking trails in the North Pole, Antarctica, Sahara Desert, the Appalachian, California coastline…you name it.
OK, most people won’t travel that far just to hike.
But a brief weekend away from home to grow your hobby sounds like something worthwhile enough to sacrifice anything for.
11. Few Hobbies Keep Eyes Healthy as Hiking
Yes – just a fistful of hobbies helps keep your eyes sharp and healthy: skydiving, shooting, and a few other things that let you look far and wide.
When most guys choose hobbies, they rarely consider the well-being of their body organs leave alone the general health benefits.
One factor they least consider is the long-term effect of the hobby on their eyes.
Gym workouts don’t have any real effect on your eyes.
Hiking, on another hand, helps train your eyes to scan far and wide.
In fact, a study published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise in 2013 shows that individuals who walk for long distances or run for about five miles per day have a 41% lower risk of ending up with eye cataracts later in life.
The exact reason for this isn’t known, but it could have something to do with the obvious fact that walking and running for long distances reduces the chances of developing type 2 diabetes or high blood pressure.
12. You Can Hike at Any Time
There will be times when the gym will stay closed for hours, even an entire day.
You don’t want another person to have such a big influence on your hobby.
Hiking trails seldom close.
Whether you prefer to hike during major holidays or only between 2:00 pm to 2:00 am, you don’t need to worry about time restrictions.
Unless the weather has been super bad, say, a storm or some exceptional directions have been sent down from an above authority, you are good to hit the trail any time you please with your buddies and stay there as long as you want.
13. Hiking Doesn’t Require Much Equipment
To seriously pursue gymming as a hobby, you’d need to set up a personal gym at home or somewhere on your premises.
Alternatively, you can pay monthly subscriptions to your local gym but that would mean you only get to use it when it’s open.
A truly modern gym – whether home-based or commercial – requires about 50 pieces of equipment to run.
You can trim your list to just 5 essential pieces if you want to set up yours:
- exercise mat: $15
- resistance bands: $6
- kettlebell: $25
- a set of medium-weight dumbbells: $18
- and set of heavy dumbbells: $31.
If you were to start with the basics, you’ll need these (inexpensive):
- A yoga mat or exercise mat
- Resistance bands (heavy, medium, light)
- Stability ball
- Bench, box, or step bench (something to elevate your body)
- Ab wheel
- Jump rope
- Gliding discs
- Suspension trainer (perfect for beginners that need to start on a low or those buying time to invest in weights).
- Adjustable dumbbells (they can be quite expensive, but takes less space)
- Dumbbells (heavy, medium, light)
- Medicine ball (but sandbags can be better)
- Plate weights and barbells
- Weighted vest
- Indoor cycling bike
- Ski Erg
- Agility ladder
- Assault bike
- Vertical climber
Note that cardio can include such things as jumping jacks, jump rope, power walking, burpees, walking lunges, or running outside your home but basic gym equipment are still a must-have
Advanced (more expensive equipment for a real fitness hobby):
- Squat rack
- Battle ropes
- Punching bag
- Power tower
If you were to set up your own gym at home with all the necessary equipment, you would spend anything between $300,000 – $500,000. For smaller gyms, the cost is in the region of $100,000.
Hiking is way cheaper. If you have a pair of hiking shoes, a shirt, shorts, and a backpack, you are almost good to hit the trail.
When to Choose Going To The Gym (as Hobby) Over Hiking
A hobby should be something you only settle on after deep thought about it.
You certainly need to consider many factors before settling on one.
For example, although hiking could come across as cheaper and gentle on your bones, it doesn’t build muscles to the level you’d get with gym workouts.
Also, if you are not an outdoor person, or you don’t like to socialize, hiking won’t be in the cards.
Here are a few situations in which gymming can be a better hobby for you than hiking:
1. You Don’t Want the Weather to Get into The Way
The best thing about gymming is that it’s an all-weather activity. The chaotic weather that normally comes with the winter won’t interfere with your workouts.
Since hiking occurs on the trail or outdoors, you wouldn’t be willing to venture into the wild in the middle of December with a bunch of buddies.
Yet no one wants to pause their hobbies an entire season just because the weather doesn’t permit it.
2. You Just Don’t Like to Move Around
Some of us would rather stay at home or one spot for extended periods than brave the poisonous ivy-ridden trails in the wild.
If you are an introvert, it only makes sense you take a hobby that can be actively pursued indoors, gymming for example.
Also, if you have a health condition that doesn’t permit you to venture deep and wide in the wild, you better consider the gym.
3. You Live in The Heart of a Big City
Hiking may not be an attractive hobby if you live in a large metropolitan area like New York. There aren’t going to be many exciting trails near your home.
But you are more likely to pass a bunch of decent gyms along the way before you get to the fringes of the city where you could find a trail.
Nonetheless, even if you find one outside the city, the distance from your home could be a retraining factor.
4. There Are Just Many Risks in The Wild (And You Want to Stay Safe)
Stinging plants, snakes, disease-spreading insects…there’s a bunch of things to worry about once you hit the trail – all these make the four walls of your gym sound like a safer place than anything else.
If you have sensitive skin, you certainly won’t consider stepping in the wild in a pair of shorts.
The weather can be unforgiving as well. From the searing heat of the sun that could boil a brain to sudden rainfall that would leave you wet and miserable in the park.