Is‌ ‌Backpacking‌ ‌A ‌Good‌ ‌Workout‌? (Explained) What’s & What’s Not

Here’s if backpacking is a good workout

Backpacking is fantastic for a great workout. No other sport offers a compelling combination of endurance training, weight-bearing activities, and a low injury rate. A backpacker’s body, when properly trained, is equally as chiseled and fit as that of other athletes.

As beneficial as backpacking is in achieving your intended workout objective, several behaviors, such as drinking and smoking, can prevent you from getting the most out of it.


5 reasons why backpacking is a good workout

Backpacking is a physically demanding activity. It is both convenient and cost-effective because it does not necessitate the use of any specific equipment. Here are a few of the advantages of backpacking.

1. It’s simple.

Backpacking is one of the most straightforward workouts available. The only essential items are appropriate footwear and clothing, a water bottle, and sometimes some nibbles for fuel. Finding a route is very simple, thanks to a plethora of outdoor-related websites. The most admirable aspect, maybe, is that backpacking is almost always free.

2. The cardiac advantages are enormous.

The emphasis of any excellent workout should be on cardiac effort. One of the most beneficial things you can do for your health is regularly to engage in prolonged, low-to-moderate physical exercise.

Backpacking allows you to hit those sustained periods more easily since, well, you won’t get home until you finish. It’s easy to keep track of your level of effort; typically, checking in with your breathing can tell you if you’re genuinely exerting yourself or merely cruising through the trails.

The benefits of engaging in physical activity regularly, such as backpacking, are enormous: studies have shown that receiving this quantity of exercise reduces levels of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and even many types of cancer.

3. You’ll improve your balance.

Uneven terrain makes your body work harder to keep you upright. Regular backpacking will enhance your balance, which will lead to better performance in all other physical activities – a win-win situation. Look for routes with many elevation changes if you want to build and tone your quads, calves, and hamstrings.

4. It is adaptable to any goal.

Trails vary in complexity based on length, elevation variation, and terrain roughness, so there are options for any backpacker level. Backpacking is an excellent approach to begin a weight loss or jumpstart some favorable cardiovascular changes for people who are just starting with their fitness goals.

Backpacking can assist more experienced athletes in recuperating from strenuous workouts and reducing lactic acid buildup. It’s also a good cross-training approach, allowing you to build endurance in a more relaxed setting than on the treadmill at the gym.

5. It is easily scalable.

Increasing miles in backpacking is simple: pick a longer path, repeat a loop, or commit too many excursions per week.

New backpackers should begin with trails 1-3 miles long and reasonably flat, increasing mileage on flat trails before attempting trails with more significant elevation because the distance is simpler to assess than uneven terrain.

The next phase is to add weight, usually via a weight vest, to raise the overall effort while emphasizing muscle gain.

5 activities you can do backpacking to get a good workout

1. Hiking

Hiking is a relatively difficult activity that involves walking long distances on trails or highways. The duration of the activity ranges from simple half-day programs to extensive itineraries lasting more than 20 days. It is usually an activity that allows for groups of various sizes.

Example: If you are backpacking in Europe, you can hike TOUR DE MONTE ROSA in Italy, which is an 8-11 days hike.

Hiking is a weight-bearing exercise that promotes muscle mass and aids in the prevention of osteoporosis. Hiking can help you lose weight. It is a joint-friendly type of exercise that can help arthritis patients stay limber and mobile.

Being outside in the sun offers vitamin D to the body. Going up and down hills gets the heart rate up, resulting in an excellent cardio workout. Hiking reduces your risk of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and even some malignancies.

See related: Wearing Backpacks In Italy – Are Your Belongings Safe?

2. Climbing

Climbing is an excellent way to improve cardiac endurance, core strength, and agility. Backpacking climbers work for numerous distinct muscle groups—almost it’s like having a total-body workout with just one activity.

Your shoulders, arms, and chest help stabilize your upper body while your core stabilizes the remainder of your body as you do the action. As the prime mover, your quads receive a great workout as well. You’ll also gain heart health benefits and burn calories because it’s an aerobic activity.

3. Canoeing and Kayaking

Paddling a small craft over water is the same in both canoeing and kayaking. They are low-impact exercises that can help you enhance your aerobic fitness, strength, and flexibility.

Canoeing and kayaking can be done as a recreational activity, a competitive sport, or as a vacation activity. Paddle your way through rivers, lakes, and the sea.

Low-impact exercises like kayaking and canoeing can help you improve your aerobic fitness, strength, and flexibility. Among the specific workout benefits are:

  • Cardiovascular fitness is improved.
  • Moving the paddle increased muscle strength, particularly in the back, arms, shoulders, and chest.
  • Increased torso and leg strength, as canoeing and kayaking is mostly performed by twisting the torso and applying pressure with the legs.
  • Because paddling is a low-impact activity, the risk of joint and tissue wear and strain is reduced.

4. Zip-lining

Ziplining is an action-packed leisure activity that entails riding a steel cable on a protected seat or a belt between two sites, usually in a valley with breathtaking scenery. Ziplining originated in the Himalayas and Alps as a means of transportation and observation in Costa Rica without hurting the natural environment.

Today, zip lining is a popular outdoor activity, with millions of people taking part worldwide. The specific workout benefits are:

Burn calories

Spending the day zip lining will lower your blood pressure and help you burn a lot of calories while having a fantastic time! The hike up the mountain to your top destination is usually quite tough, and this cardiovascular workout aids in burning body fat.

Adrenaline surge

When you have an adrenaline rush, your senses become heightened, and you may feel a rapid boost in energy, increased strength, and a diminished sensation of pain. Overall, it’s a stimulating sensation that makes you more willing to try more activities outside of your comfort zone in the future.

Lowers blood pressure

As you journey through the paths to reach the zip line, you lower your blood pressure while admiring the scenery around you. Lowering blood pressure lowers the risks of heart disease, diabetes, and stroke in people at high risk.

Improves vision

Ziplining is an excellent way to strengthen your eyes and improve your long-distance vision. As you soar through the sky, your eyes will be forced to switch focus fast between the ropes close to you and the spectacular mountain views in the distance, training your eyes to focus quickly and helping to sharpen your vision.

Increases self-esteem

When you finish your zip line excursion, you will have a great feeling of success, which will boost your self-esteem and make you feel like you can do anything! If you are terrified of heights or falling, this journey may help you overcome your anxieties and feel stronger than before.

5. Trekking

Trekking, as opposed to hiking, entails walking for extended periods. The voyage frequently passes through difficult terrains, such as mountains or jungles. Because the walk itself can be so difficult, there is little time for hiking games.

Breaks are typically used to catch your breath and replenish your supplies of food and water. On the other hand, Trekking is worth the effort because it takes you off the usual road, where you’ll view stunning panoramas that few people get to see.

Like all physical activities, Trekking is a great workout exercise: it strengthens your bones, lowers your risk of osteoporosis, increases your cardiovascular and respiratory capacities, strengthens your immune system, and improves your muscle ability.

A change in speed and place aids stress reduction and the ventilative properties of fresh air. Slow and sustained walking is a low-impact physical exercise that is less stressful to the joints than other high-impact sports.

It gradually builds a balanced musculature and sheathing of all the muscles in the body, including those in the four limbs and the trunk. It also improves motor coordination and, if necessary, re-balances bodily parts.

Why? Because this is an uneven activity. Your left side is acting similarly to your right side. You, therefore, exercise both the front and back of your body.

Examples of how backpacking is not a good workout

Example #1 : Too Much Drinking While Backpacking

Alcohol affects our brains and spinal cord coordination, resulting in a jittery stride. Working out requires energy, but the calories from alcohol are unusual in that they cannot be stored as energy in the muscles.

Muscles cannot contract properly without certain important electrolytes, such as magnesium, calcium, and potassium, which are lost along with fluids that you pee out due to alcohol’s diuretic effect.

Example #2: Smoking While Backpacking

While backpacking, you should avoid smoking. Backpacking causes you to breathe considerably more heavily than usual, and smoking reduces the capacity of your lungs.

Smoking harms many parts of your health, including your physical endurance. When you smoke, your heart, lungs, and muscles receive less oxygen. Your physical fitness suffers as a result of this.

It can also cause bone and joint inflammation. This will significantly complicate your backpacking trip. Instead of getting a fantastic workout, you will wind up with muscle and chest aches.

Should exercise before going backpacking?

Ideally, you should exercise before going backpacking/hiking. As rewarding as backpacking can be, it also places a high demand on your body. Even if you carry a light pack to lighten the load, the miles will not hike themselves.

Spend some time training your body before your journey, and you’ll be more likely to conclude each trial day cheerfully fatigued rather than hurt and exhausted. It is therefore important that you exercise before backpacking.

Getting Into Shape For Backpacking:

1. Allow yourself enough time to prepare.

On average, It can take anywhere from three weeks to three months for your body to noticeably improve your fitness level and adapt to a behavioral change. So, if you haven’t already booked your trip, you’d better get started right away!

2. Concentrate on your cardiovascular fitness.

Even if you can’t get outside or to the gym, there are plenty of cardio workouts you can do at home to get your heart rate up. Hence you can just go for a run.

Bodyweight workouts like jumping jacks, half-jacks, squats, leg lifts, hops, and even plank jacks are great because they don’t require special equipment or talent.

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is especially good for backpacking adventures since it increases both aerobic and anaerobic fitness and prepares your body for the bursts of strength you’ll need on your ascent.

HIIT appears to be more sophisticated than it is; it simply incorporates a brief, more vigorous exercise into your everyday walking, jogging, swimming, or biking routine. For example, if you go for a 45-minute brisk walk, try jogging for 30 to 60 seconds every 5 to 10 minutes.

Similarly, if you swim or ride a bike, incorporate a few sprints into your regular regimen. Exertion is a significant cause of altitude sickness.

3. Concentrate on leg strength.

Strength training is typically beneficial for athletes of all ages, but leg strength is necessary for a pleasurable hiking experience. After all, your legs are performing the majority of the effort. Lunges, squats, and calf raises are all terrific at-home exercises.

Step on and off a step or exercise platform slowly, gradually increasing the height as you improve. Setting your treadmill to a steeper incline or even walking up a few hills on your evening stroll is excellent preparation.

4. A strong back is required to carry your pack.

Your backpack and a few bottles of water serve as a portable gym, allowing you to get in shape in almost any place. Put on your pack and do several “step-ups.” This will prepare your calves and back for the weight you’ll be carrying on a backpacking trip.

Walking your luggage up and down the stairs is also excellent training. Push-ups and planking with a heavy pack build the core, shoulders, and upper body muscles needed for longer hikes. Here are some back-strengthening exercises you can do with your pack.

5. Don’t forget about your core.

Your core muscles are your abdominal muscles, back muscles, and pelvic muscles, and they provide you with balance and flexibility, as well as underpinning almost every other physical activity you’ll accomplish on an athletic excursion.

Crunches, bridges, and planks are excellent workouts for developing a strong core. Sitting on an exercise ball while reading or watching TV at night might help you tone up your core; boost your core fitness game with these stability ball workouts.

6. Keep it balanced

This may seem too obvious to mention, but spending a few minutes refining your balance will help you avoid accidents on your trip and provide you more stability when backpacking.

Walking heel-to-toe with your arms outstretched and your gaze straight ahead is a simple and effective balancing exercise. Simply standing on one foot for 30-60 seconds (or longer if you can) before moving to the other foot is also beneficial.

7. Don’t forget to go on some practice treks.

Now is the time to put all those exercises to use by going on a few practice treks. Look for sites with varying topography and elevation so you can get a sense of how your body reacts to stress – and areas where you might wish to improve.

Remember to wear your pack and chuck in a couple of water bottles, adding more as you continue, so you can get used to carrying a weighted pack on your back. The practice treks are also incredibly significant for another reason: You’ll have the opportunity to break in your boots – or buy a new pair if the ones you have aren’t properly supporting you.

Bottom Line

Despite its non-competitive nature, backpacking has fitness advantages that rival those of more rigorous, high-impact exercises. However, when using backpacking as an exercise, be cautious not to push yourself too far.