Is Hiking the Same as Jogging? Strange Similarities and Differences Between Hiking and Jogging

I love hiking so much, I can’t even hide this fact. Many persons around who don’t seem to get the hang of hiking often ask this question, “Is hiking the same as jogging?” How do these two popular activities compare?

At first glance, hiking and jogging may seem quite similar – after all, they both involve walking/running outdoors.

But in this guide, I’ll dig into the key differences between hiking and jogging when it comes to health benefits, muscles worked, intensity level, and more. As a busy mom, I enjoy both for different reasons.

By the end, you’ll have a clear understanding of how hiking and jogging stack up across the board. Time to hit the trails versus pavement! Lols. Alright, let’s get to it.


Table of Contents

Hiking vs. Jogging: The Key Differences

Let’s kick things off with a high-level overview of the main differences between hiking and jogging:

  • Hiking generally involves walking, while jogging is running.
  • Hiking focuses on nature, jogging on intensity or mileage.
  • Jogging has higher cardio intensity, hiking is more leisurely.
  • Hiking works stabilizer muscles, jogging targets the major muscle groups.
  • Hiking is lower impact on the joints, jogging is higher impact.
  • Jogging requires specific footwear, hiking can utilize all-purpose shoes/boots.


Hiking vs. Running: The Pace and Intensity Difference

One of the biggest differences between hiking and jogging comes down to pace and intensity. Let’s compare:

Hiking Intensity

Hiking involves walking at a casual to moderately brisk pace. Heart rates typically stay in the 60-75% of max range. The terrain dictates your speed more than anything.

You can hold a conversation while hiking without gasping for air. The exertion level is relatively light to moderate.

Hiking allows you to zone out and enjoy the outdoors without worrying about pace. It’s as much mental relaxation as physical exercise.

Jogging Intensity

Jogging means running at a moderate to intense pace depending on your fitness level and goals. Heart rates enter the 70-85% of max training zone.

You can speak a few words while jogging, but breathing is labored. The level of exertion is higher with a sustained elevated heart rate.

Tracking pace, speed, and mileage is often a priority. It takes more concentrated effort than hiking.

As you can see, hiking and jogging differ significantly in their intensity and pace. One is leisurely while the other more intense.

Also Read: Does Hiking Build Hips? 6 Amazing Benefits + 7 Expert Tips


Muscle Groups Worked: Hiking vs Jogging

In addition to cardio, the muscles worked also vary between hiking and jogging.

Hiking’s Muscle Activation

Here are the main muscles engaged during hiking:

  • Glutes, quads, hamstrings: Major leg muscle groups power you along the trail.
  • Core muscles: Activate to stabilize with each step over uneven terrain.
  • Back muscles: Engage to maintain upright posture over miles.
  • Arm muscles: Light activity from pumping arms or trekking poles.
  • Stabilizer muscles: Smaller supporting muscles keep ankles, knees, and hips aligned on variable ground.

Hiking emphasizes stabilizer and supporting muscles to maintain balance and alignment with each step. The core and back also get a great workout.

Jogging’s Muscle Activation

Here are the main muscles worked during jogging:

  • Quads: Drive leg extension for more power with each stride.
  • Hamstrings: Propels the body forward and control leg deceleration.
  • Glutes: Initiates movement with hip extension.
  • Calves: Lift the heel to aid forward propulsion.
  • Arms: Pump back and forth to propel the body.

Jogging works larger muscle groups like quads, glutes and arms to power you forward with greater force. The repetitive motion also engages many stabilizers.

So while both work the legs, jogging drives harder leg muscle exertion while hiking emphasizes balance muscles.


The Impact Difference: Hiking vs. Jogging

The amount of impact on the joints is another key difference between the two activities. Let’s take a look:

Hiking’s Joint Impact

Due to the slower pace, hiking is considered a low-impact exercise. With each step you place about 1.5 times your body weight on the joints.

The varied terrain also reduces repetitive impact on any one area. Plus hiking poles share the load.

The lower impact makes hiking an ideal choice for those with knee, hip or ankle issues who need to minimize joint loading.

Jogging’s Joint Impact

Jogging is considered a higher impact exercise. The faster stride and harder landings generate about 3-4 times your body weight with each step.

This repetitive impact on the joints increases injury risk to knees, hips and lower back over time.

Jogging may need to be avoided or reduced by those with arthritis, previous injuries or joint stability problems.

So hiking offers a lower impact way to reap the cardio benefits with less joint strain, making it accessible to more people.

Also Read: Does Hiking Change Your Body? 7 Amazing Whole-Body Wellness Benefits


Burning Calories: Hiking vs. Jogging

Of course, many people are also concerned with fat burning and calories. How do hiking and jogging compare?

Hiking Calorie Burn

The exact hiking calories burned depends on the terrain, pack weight and your body weight. But general estimates are:

  • A 130 lb person burns around 300 calories per hour of hiking.
  • A 155 lb person burns around 350 calories hiking for one hour.
  • At 180 lbs you can expect to burn approximately 400 calories with a one hour hike.

So heavier individuals burn more calories hiking at the same pace as lighter people. Hills also increase calorie burn.

Jogging Calorie Burn

Calories burned jogging depends on your running pace and body weight, but general estimates are:

  • A 130 lb person burns around 400 calories jogging for one hour.
  • A 155 lb person burns around 475 calories jogging at a moderate pace for one hour.
  • At 180 lbs you burn about 550 calories jogging at a moderate intensity for one hour.

Heavier joggers also burn more calories at the same speed than lighter ones. Increasing your pace ramps up calorie burn further.

Pound for pound, jogging burns about 25-50% more calories than hiking due to the increased intensity level.


Hiking vs. Running: Training Differences

Let’s move on to explore how hiking and jogging differ in their training methods and best practices:

Hiking Training Tips

Ideal hiking training includes:

  • Choose loops with elevation changes to build endurance.
  • Start with smaller mile hikes and work upwards.
  • Pack a weighted daypack some days for added resistance.
  • Focus on posture and proper stepping technique.
  • Take breaks as needed – it’s not a race!
  • Rotate between different trails to keep the muscles guessing.

Hiking follows a gradual build your distance and endurance methodology. There is flexibility based on how you feel day-to-day.

Jogging Training Tips

Some best practices for jogging and running training are:

  • Progressively increase weekly mileage using the 10% rule.
  • Follow a program with set distances, paces and rest days.
  • Push yourself during workouts and honor hard rest days.
  • Pace yourself strategically during races. Go hard!
  • Analyze your pace and heart rate metrics.

Jogging programs are more rigid with faster progression. The aim is increasing speed + endurance systematically.

The training mentality shifts from leisurely to goal-focused between hiking and jogging.

Also Read: Is Hiking Sporty? Powerful Considerations for Hiking as a Sport


Ease of Entry: Hiking vs. Jogging

Another consideration is how easy or difficult it is to get started:

Startup Costs

Hiking has minimal startup costs. You likely already own a pair of supportive athletic shoes and can throw on layers. The only other supplies needed when first starting out are water and snacks. Hiking poles are optional. So the initial costs are under $100 in most cases.

Jogging has more startup costs between needing true running shoes ($100+), moisture wicking clothes, a supportive bra, a running belt or vest, reflective gear if running at night, and more. Startup costs usually run at least $200-$300 to do it right.

Learning Curve

Hiking has an easier learning curve for beginners. Most people intuitively know how to walk outdoors over different terrain. As long as you have reasonable shoes, you can head out on a trail as a total newbie.

Jogging has more of a learning curve between breathing techniques, stride, pacing yourself, injury prevention, choosing routes, and more. Following a “Couch to 5K” style program is wise for newbies. Taking the time to build up running fitness is key.

Injury Risk

Thanks to the lower impact and intensity, injury risk is lower with hiking, especially when starting out. Beginners can complete reasonable mile hikes without too much downside risk as long as they listen to their body.

Jogging has higher injury risk, especially for new runners who don’t ease into it gradually. Common beginner injuries include shin splints, knee pain, hip flexor strains, plantar fasciitis and more. Following proper training progression is critical.

So hiking has a lower barrier to entry for complete fitness novices. Jogging requires more preparation and precautions when starting out.


Mental Health Differences: Hiking vs. Jogging

Both activities provide mental health perks, but the mechanisms differ:

Hiking’s Mind-Body Benefits

Being out in nature inherently lifts your mood as hiking immerses you in beautiful scenery. It provides a mental reset.

The slower hiking pace lends itself to contemplation, mindfulness and clearing your head. The meditation aspect helps reduce stress.

Spending hours hiking fosters resilience and can help work through emotional challenges. The isolation promotes introspection.

Hiking with others can enhance social bonds and gives a sense of community. But hiking solo offers benefits too for processing thoughts.

Jogging’s Mind-Body Benefits

Jogging releases endorphins, providing the “runner’s high” mood boost and stress relief.

Pushing past physical limits mentally builds willpower, discipline and mental toughness that applies in all areas of life.

The measurable progress and goal achievement in pace/distance lifts your confidence and self-esteem.

Joining running groups enhances social connections and support. But solo running also clears your mind.

So hiking encourages more inward mindfulness, while jogging builds grit and discipline. Both improve mood.

Also Read: Is Hiking Good for Your Heart? Here are 13+ Intriguing and Compelling Reasons to Believe It is


Overall Health Benefits: Hiking vs. Jogging

Let’s compare some of the overall wellness perks:

Hiking for Health

Here are some top hiking health benefits:

  • Strengthens the heart and lungs
  • Lowers blood pressure and cholesterol
  • Reduces risk for various chronic diseases
  • Burns calories for weight management
  • Builds muscle strength and endurance
  • Improves balance and stability
  • May help reduce risk of cognitive decline
  • Boosts vitamin D levels from sunlight exposure


Jogging for Health

Here are some key jogging health benefits:

  • Powerful aerobic exercise for cardiovascular fitness
  • Strengthens bones by stimulating bone-building cells
  • Reduces stress and anxiety
  • Burns major calories for weight loss
  • Supports muscle development
  • Improves joint mobility
  • Boosts immunity by increasing white blood cells
  • Reduces risk of many chronic diseases

Both provide fantastic overall health benefits, just through slightly different mechanisms tailored to their intensity and movements.


Required Gear: Hiking vs. Jogging

Gear needs also differ quite a bit between the sports:

Hiking Gear Essentials

  • Sturdy, supportive shoes or boots
  • Wool/synthetic hiking socks
  • Moisture wicking shirt + pants or shorts
  • Lightweight, breathable rain jacket
  • Backpack for supplies
  • Trekking poles (optional)
  • Sun protection: hat, sunglasses, SPF
  • First aid kit
  • Headlamp if hiking at night or sunrise/sunset
  • Food, water, map/compass as needed


Jogging Gear Essentials

  • Lightweight, flexible running shoes
  • Moisture wicking socks
  • Quick-drying running clothes
  • Supportive sports bra
  • Visible running belt for phone + keys
  • Arm band for phone if needed
  • Reflective gear if running at night
  • Hydration vest on long runs
  • Body glide to prevent chafing
  • Extra shoes if rainy weather

Joggers focus on lightweight gear that won’t restrict movement. Hikers choose durable items to withstand the elements while carrying supplies.


Terrain Differences: Where You Can Hike vs. Jog

The choice of terrain also differs between the activities:

Where to Hike

Hiking is perfect for:

  • Trails through wooded forests
  • Rugged mountainous trails
  • Desert hiking on dry packed dirt
  • Beaches below the high tide line
  • Fields and meadows
  • Riverfront and lakeside paths
  • Scrambling up rocky terrain
  • Almost any natural landscape you can walk through!


Where to Jog

Ideal jogging terrain includes:

  • Smooth dirt trails
  • Softer grassy fields and tracks
  • Asphalt, concrete or brick sidewalks/paths
  • Hard-packed dirt trails
  • Crushed gravel tracks and surfaces
  • High school tracks for tempo runs
  • Flat nature trails without roots/rocks
  • Treadmills for indoor options

Jogging requires more consistent, less technical footing for safety at faster speeds.


Weather Considerations: Hiking vs. Running

Weather comes into play differently as well for the two pursuits:

Hiking in Various Weather

Hiking can be enjoyed year-round with proper precautions:

Cold weather: Dress in insulating layers and wind/waterproof outerwear.

Hot weather: Hike early or at sunset, hydrate frequently, and take rests. Wear breathable clothes.

Rainy weather: Bring adequate raingear and waterproof boots.

Snowy weather: Use microspikes on your boots for traction on snow and ice.

The only severe weather to avoid is electrical storms, flash flooding, or icy trails. Otherwise, gear can be adapted for the conditions.


Jogging in Different Weather

Jogging is more impacted by weather extremes:

Cold weather: Dress in wicking base layers under heat-trapping items. Cover your extremities.

Hot weather: Run very early/late to avoid midday heat. Hydrate before, during, and after. Wear lightweight, breezy clothes.

Rainy weather: Only light drizzle is safe. Heavier rain increases injury risk on slippery ground.

Snowy weather: Only jog if roads/paths are salted and cleared. Avoid icy patches.

Lightning, high winds, dense fog, icy ground, heavy rain/snow, and extreme temperatures warrant taking your run indoors instead.

So joggers need to be selective when running outside based on conditions. Hikers can adjust gear for all but the most intense weather.


Fitness Level Suitability: Hiking vs. Running

Who can start each activity depends on fitness level and mobility:

Hiking for Any Fitness Level

Hiking is suitable for almost all ages and fitness levels:

– Complete beginners can start with flat terrain. Progress distance slowly as fitness builds.

– Those with an established active lifestyle hike at a more brisk pace and hillier terrain.

– Athletes use it for endurance training and strength building.

– It’s low impact and gentle on joints for older adults and those recovering from injuries.

– Children can start hiking successfully as young as age 5 on kid-friendly trails.

– Trail options accommodate people with disabilities when graded for wheelchair access.

The ability to control distance and intensity makes hiking feasible for anyone.


Jogging for Moderate+ Fitness

Jogging requires a moderate level of fitness to start:

– Beginners should build up gradually following something like the Couch to 5k program over 2-3 months.

– Those restarting after a break need to ease back into it to prevent injury.

– It’s suitable both for recreational runners and competitive athletes.

– The impact makes it questionable for people with arthritis or joint issues.

– Good balance and coordination skills are needed to pick up jogging.

– Small children under 7 lack the skeleton development to start jogging safely.

So jogging excludes complete newbies. It takes time to condition the muscles and joints first.


Social Aspects: Companionship Differences

The social atmosphere also differs quite a bit:

Hiking as Social Activity

Hiking’s relaxed nature makes it very social:

– Families with kids of all ages hike together frequently. It’s bonding time!

– Groups of friends use hiking as time to catch up without distractions.

– Many couples consider hiking a shared hobby for quality romantic time.

– Retirees often join hiking clubs for companionship on the trails.

– You can have rich conversations without running out of breath.

Jogging as Social Activity

Jogging can be social, but the intensity makes it harder:

– Running clubs provide camaraderie, but you can’t talk much during faster paces.

– Couples need to be similarly matched in speed and distance to run together consistently.

– Trying to talk makes you run out of breath faster.

– Safety concerns mean kids under 10 can’t join parents for jogs on roads.

– Running while pushing a stroller allows new parents to combine jogging with bonding.

The pace requirements limit how much meaningful interaction occurs during the activity. Both offer community, just in different ways.


Accessibility of Locations: Hiking vs. Jogging

It’s also worth comparing accessibility of potential locations:

Accessing Hiking Locations

Hiking trails are found in most areas, but some require more effort to reach:

– City parks and greenspaces often have short natural trails suitable for hiking.

– State parks within 1-2 hours provide access to longer hiking routes and wilderness.

– National parks offer epic hiking, but may require air travel and lodging expenses.

– Hiking vacations expand options, but add costs of transportation, hotels, etc.

With effort you can find hiking in most locales, but amazing trails may need pre-planning.

Accessing Jogging Routes

Jogging can be done anywhere with a reasonable surface:

– Sidewalks or trails through your neighborhood work great for routine jogs.

– School tracks offer perfect conditions, especially for speed work.

– Treadmills at your gym provide options in extreme weather.

– Parks, marinas, and other public places usually have running-friendly paths.

– Apps like MapMyRun detail measured routes all over your city.

So joggers can find convenient running locations almost anywhere urban or suburban with minimal forethought.


Time Commitment: Hiking vs. Jogging

You also need to consider the time involvement:

Time Needed for Hiking

Most hiking excursions take a half day or more:

  • Shorter 1-3 mile hikes may last 1-2 hours round trip.
  • Full day hikes of 5-7 miles can take 4-6 hours.
  • Long distance hikes of 10+ miles may take 8+ hours.
  • Adding travel time to/from trailheads adds 1-3 hours.

You need to carve out significant time for the hike itself plus transit. Hiking is rarely a quick activity.

Time Needed for Jogging

Jogging fits into small time windows more easily:

  • Most jogs last 30 minutes – 1 hour.
  • You can jog for as little as 10-15 minutes if time constrained.
  • Long runs may take 1.5 to 2 hours for very fit runners.
  • No commute time, since you can jog right from your door.

Jogging is the definition of fast fitness accessible any time your schedule allows.


Injury Risk Factors: Hiking vs. Jogging

Any physical activity carries some injury risks. Let’s compare:

Hiking Injury Risks

Potential hiking injuries include:

  • Ankle sprains or breaks from uneven ground or loose rocks
  • Knee pain or tearing from repetitive bending on descents
  • Foot blisters from improper hiking shoes
  • Shoulder strain from overloaded backpack
  • Slipping and falling due to wet/icy terrain

But injury risk stays relatively low thanks to the slower pace. Proper footwear and using poles reduces it further.

Jogging Injury Risks

Common jogging injuries:

  • Patellofemoral pain syndrome (runner’s knee)
  • Shin splints
  • Achilles tendinitis
  • Plantar fasciitis
  • Hip/hamstring strains
  • Stress fractures in feet or legs
  • Twisted ankles from irregular surfaces

The repetitive joint impact and need to absorb shock increases injury likelihood for new runners. A training progression program is key.


Price and Ongoing Costs: Hike vs. Run

Financial factors may play into choosing a hobby. Let’s break down costs:

Hiking Startup and Ongoing Costs

Hiking has some startup gear costs, but minimal ongoing expenses:

Startup costs:

  • Shoes: $50 – $150 for quality hiking shoes or boots
  • Backpack: $60+ for a durable daypack, more for multi-day
  • Trekking poles: $100+ for adjustable poles
  • Clothing and bases layers: $100+


Ongoing costs:

  • Gas for trailhead commutes
  • Hiking club memberships: $50/year
  • Gear repairs and replacements
  • Hiking park fees: $3 – $30/visit

Jogging Startup and Ongoing Costs.

Jogging also has gear startup costs, plus more:

Startup costs:

  • Running shoes: $100 – $150+ for proper fit
  • Run watch: $200+ for models with tracking and feedback
  • Quality run clothes: $150+
  • Hydration vest or belt: $50+


Ongoing costs:

  • Race fees: $30 – $300 per event
  • Gym membership for treadmill access
  • Supplements like protein powder, electrolytes
  • New shoes every 300-500 miles: $100-150
  • Clothing replacement

The competitive aspect of jogging and need for multiple pairs of shoes makes costs add up more over time.


Environmental Differences and Impact

One final point of comparison is the environmental impact of each activity.

Hiking’s Environmental Impact

Hiking can positively or negatively impact the environment:


  • Boosts appreciation for nature and conservation
  • Low emissions activity reaching trails
  • Unpaved trails have minimal habitat disruption



  • Overuse and erosion on popular trails
  • Trash left behind litters natural areas
  • Wildlife disruption if hikers go off-trail

Jogging’s Environmental Impact

Jogging also has pros and cons:


  • Low emissions activity within your neighborhood
  • No need for additional infrastructure



  • Air pollution from driving to run location
  • Noise pollution distracting others
  • Petrochemicals in clothing and shoes

So both carry some environmental considerations to keep in mind. We must minimize negatives.


The Verdict: How Hiking and Running Compare

Analyzing all the research and data, what’s the final verdict? How similar are hiking and jogging in the end?

While both are forms of walking/running outdoors, the differences outweigh the similarities when it comes to training methodology, muscle groups worked, fitness benefits, socialization, injury risk, accessibility, environmental impact and more.

The intensity level alone creates a vastly different overall experience. Hiking works for all fitness levels at a leisurely pace. Jogging requires established cardiovascular baseline fitness to jump into safely.

For a well rounded routine, it’s fantastic to incorporate both hiking and jogging tailored to your abilities and training goals. Or focus on just one if it aligns better with your needs and interests.


FAQs: Is Hiking the Same as Jogging


Which burns more calories, hiking or jogging?

Jogging burns 25-50% more calories per hour than hiking at the same weight due to increased intensity. But hiking uphill can match jogging on flatter terrain.

Can you use hiking shoes for jogging?

No, you need proper jogging shoes with ample cushioning and bounce. The heavier, stiffer hiking boots would quickly cause injury while running.

Is jogging or hiking better for losing weight?

Jogging supports quicker weight loss thanks to burning maximum calories. But hiking allows those at any starting fitness level to work up towards big calorie burns through progressing distance.

Does jogging or hiking build more muscle?

Hiking emphasizes smaller stabilizer muscles while jogging works the major muscle groups harder. Do both for balanced lower body muscle development.

Can you breathe as hard when hiking as when jogging?

No, jogging requires deeper, more strenuous breathing to fuel the increased oxygen demands of running. Hiking allows lighter breathing.

Is hiking or jogging safer for knee problems?

Due to lower impact forces, hiking is typically the safer choice. Always consult your doctor about the best options for your unique joint issues.

Which is better for weight loss – jogging or hiking?

Jogging supports faster weight loss in the short term. But hiking can promote weight loss over time, especially when coupled with strength training and a calorie deficit.

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