What is The Difference Between Walking and Hiking

Walking and hiking are two puzzling words that most fail to differentiate. The fact that both involve exploring your feet as you propel them from one place to another makes their difference blurry to many. Still, both activities are so effective when it comes to exercise and fitness. This leaves many confused on whether walking is synonymous with hiking. Many are left wondering; what is the difference between walking and hiking? Do they have the same benefits? If not, what’s the contrast between them? Do you need the same gear or clothing? Do they burn the same amount of calories? Are their paths the same? We have answered all your questions in this guide.


Walking is a necessity for laid-back movement of feet one step after another. In fact, walking starts at the early age of one. It is a normal day-to-day activity mostly used as a means of transport by moving your feet on the ground a stride at a time until you reach your destination. It can also be used as a form of exercise especially when done over a long distance.

Places of walking

Walking can take place anywhere. Yes, even moving from your couch to the fridge for a glass of juice is considered walking. Walking can take place both indoors and outdoors either out of necessity, exercise, or as a recreational activity. In most cases, indoor walking happens out of necessity.

Outdoor walking can be on man-made roads or any path that is typically in gravel, concrete, sand, or asphalt form. In short, places of walking should be smooth and easy because the movement is always constant. Below are most of the common places that walking happens.

  1. A walk around your home : This mostly happens when you are on your day off and have decided to spend the entire day at home. It is your day off yes, but that doesn’t mean you should remain dormant on your bed the entire day. This is where walking comes in. To avoid dormancy, you will find the need to walk around your compound or from one room to another to clean up or pick something important. Walking in and out of the kitchen to grab something to eat is the most common walking that happens on off days.
  2. Park walk : A walk in the park is a very common phrase that means something easy or pleasant to do. In regards to our discussion, a walk in the park happens through a park filled with fresh air, flowers and trees. In-most cases, it is used as a way of enhancing positive vibe, breath fresh air and frees your mind from stress. In short, this walk is relaxing as it gives you a quiet and peaceful moment.
  3. Nature walk : This is walking in places filled with natural woods to enjoy the scenery, fresh air, fresh scent of trees and flowers, chirping of birds and gash of stream water or rivers. Rather than enjoying the gift of nature, nature walks has a number of health benefits as well. It relaxes your mind, improves mental health and brings inner peace.
  4. Beach walk : This is where you walk along the beach enjoying the warmth of the sun and the gentle breeze of the sea. In most cases, it is advised to walk bare foot along the beach. This is to allow the sand to massage your soles.

See more : Best Brooks Walking Shoes for Plantar Fasciitis

Clothing during a walk

Poor clothing can have a substantial hindrance towards your walking fun day. However, note that there are no special attires meant for casual walking. This mostly applies to indoor walking. Outdoor walking also doesn’t require special clothing. Comfort is all that matters. You can even choose to walk in shorts, tights, jeans or a t-shirt. However, if you are walking as a means of exercise, you should wear jogging attires because you will sweat. You should also choose flat rubber or walking shoes for comfort.

You can also choose to have your hat on to cover your head from direct sunlight. In case it’s in winter; you can consider earmuffs instead to keep warm against cold. You can also wear your windproof coats

Gear you need for a walk

As mentioned above, a casual walk does not require any special preparation, special clothing, or gear. However, an adventure walk requires you to bring along a number of items.

  • Water, cold drinks and snacks incase need to bite something arises.
  • Torch or flash light incase darkness catches up with you in the woods.
  • A phone, charger or power bank, as you might need to communicate something out.
  • A compass map or GPS for direction guidelines.
  • A first aid kit as a safety measure.
  • An mp3 player to eliminate boredom and boost your walking morale.
  • Head hat to protect your head from excess sunlight.
  • Sunglasses with UVA filtering

Calorie burn during walking

The amount of calories burnt while walking is vastly different from hiking. Your body weight, coverage distance, and speed greatly determine the number of calories burnt while walking. It is normally estimated that for someone weighing 180 pounds, he burns 100 calories per mile of the walk, 64 calories per mile of the walk for a 120-pound person, and 53 calories for a 100-pound person per mile.

Benefits of Walking

  1. Walking saves on cost : If you opt to walk around the city, you will end up saving the cost of gas or car expenses. You can opt to walk and save your cars fuel or transport fare.
  2. Walking helps in weight loss : As seen above, a mile of walk burns a substantial number of calories. That means over time, you will have a number of pounds lost from the body
  3. Walking helps to strengthen your muscles : Walking helps a great deal in strengthening and toning your legs and abdominal muscles. How? When in motion, you tend to shift your pressure and weight from your joints to your muscles. This helps to tone them up.
  4. Walking improve mental health : A nature walk or walk in the park helps to calm your mind, relieve stress and improve your mental health. Studies show that walking reduces anxiety, depression, boost positive moods, boost self esteem which generally improves your mental health.
  5. Walking improves your heart health : Taking a walk helps to subsidize possible occurrence of coronary heart diseases. It improves your cardiovascular fitness, lowers high blood pressure and reduces probable stroke or heart diseases.

See more : Best Walkers for Seniors As Per User Reviews


Hiking is similar to walking in the essence that you can’t hike without walking. I mean, hiking entirely depends on walking. The difference applies to the vigorousness of your walk. I mean, hiking tends to be more vigorous, rigorous, and challenging. This is because hiking is a walk from a lower elevation to a higher elevation through rough terrains allowing your body to expend much energy.

Places of Hiking

In most cases, hiking takes place in hilly forests, mountains, or any sloppy reservation. It can either be;

  1. Hiking on hills : Hiking is a great adventurous activity or a form of exercise that can involve going u or down the hill. However, going up tends to be more important than going down. Studies show that hiking up and down the hill are both effective in burning calories, regulating blood sugar and enhancing tolerance of glucose in the body. However, the same study shown that upper hill strengthens the muscles more than hiking downhill.
  2. Hiking on mountains : Mountains are associated with Mother Nature. Therefore, hiking in the mountains is good for your mental welfare. It also helps in weight loss, increase your level of energy as well as reduce possible risk of cardiovascular diseases.

See more: The Four Best Knee Brace For Hiking, To Protection Knee Pain

Clothing During Hike

Unlike walking that requires no special attires, hiking needs a lot of attention when it comes to clothing. Below are the best attires to wear when hiking;

  • Nylon under wears such as bras or vests as they are fast and effective in drying off sweat from the body.
  • Hiking shoes that are sturdy and comfortable to provide traction, protection and enough support
  • Nylon or polyester hiking pant that is light and breathable.
  • Rain jackets that are light in weight, breathable and water proof especially during winter/ windy season.
  • Hiking shirts
  • Hiking shirts/ t-shirts.
  • Sun hats.

Gears You Need For a Hike

  • Backpack
  • Sunglasses for eye protection
  • Gloves to keep your hands warm and safe from thorny bushes.
  • Umbrellas for shade or protection from rain.
  • Identity card for your camping.
  • Extra food.
  • Warm blankets.
  • Compass.
  • Enough water
  • First aid kit.
  • Mosquito/ insect repellant
  • Toilet paper.
  • Extra money.

Calories Burn

Hiking is strenuous and consumes a lot of energy. In that case, it burns a substantial number of calories. However, a number of factors determine the number of calories burnt. For instance;

  • Intensity. Your hiking intensity determines calories burnt during hiking. A vigorous high intensity hiking propels your body to burn more calories.
  • Terrain. The more rough and strenuous the hiking terrain, the more calories you will burn. Steep trails with uneven and rocky ground will strain your muscles to work harder thus burn more calories.

In estimation, if you weigh 160 pounds, you will burn 440 calories in one hour of hiking; 200 pounds will burn 550 calories in one hour of hiking.

Benefits of Hiking

  1. It improves body balance : As you hike along rough and sloppy terrains, your core muscles and legs are strongly in motion. This strengthens your muscles and stability and balance even on slopes.
  2. Hiking aids in fitness : Hiking burns a number of calories which sheds off fat and excess weight from the body. This leaves you perfectly fit and in shape.
  3. Hiking cools of the mind : Hiking is a very effective stress buster as it is done in a natural and inviting outdoor setting. Being in a natural setup calms your mind, relieves stress, anxiety and protects you from depression.

Walking vs Hiking

Having discussed in detail hiking and walking, let’s now compare and contrast these two.


  • Walking and hiking are similar in that, they are both effective in weight loss, improving heart and mental health.
  • They are similar as they both involve movement of feet from one place to another.


  • While walking happens on level, flat and soft surfaces, hiking happens on rocky, hilly or rough surfaces.
  • While walking is easy and reasonably smooth, hiking is challenging and requires more effort as compared to walking. As a result, hiking burns more calories than walking.
  • While walking can happen anywhere, hiking happens specifically in natural areas like mountains, deserts or forests.

QA – Answer of Common Question

Can a walk turn into a hike?

Yes. Hiking is a special form of walk that is done on rough terrains. Therefore, you can turn a walk onto hike by changing your footpath from soft surfaces to rough terrains.

Are there any disadvantages of hiking?

Yes. At times, hiking has a number of safety concerns that involve slipping and falling on the slopes causing injuries. Also, hiking to a higher altitude can lead to a lack of oxygen which can cause headache or nausea.

How many times should you hike in a week?

Hiking three times a week is the most ideal for weight loss. Although it’s adventurous and might incline you to daily hiking, it is recommended to hike 3 times a week and allow your body to rest during the rest of the week.

What’s the effect of walking on sleep?

Study shows that walking is an effective exercise that works magically in fighting insomnia. It shows that walking helps to boost the natural production of sleep hormones melatonin. This helps to stimulate sleep.


Although hiking and walking are both effective in enhancing health and physical fitness, these two are vastly different. Hiking is more effective if you are aiming to shed many calories. It is also more adventurous and engaging. With all their similarities and difference between walking and hiking at your fingertips, choose your most favorable and enjoy the results.