What muscles does hiking work

Hiking: Healthy outdoor sports - with the right equipment

Hiking is one of the endurance sports. After all, you burn up to 300 calories an hour.
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Whether young or old: hiking is an ideal sport. Joints and leg veins are trained, and the stamina and cardiovascular system are strengthened. In addition to the fitness aspect, hiking is all about that recreation. Many people perceive the combination of physical exertion and experiencing nature as a counterbalance to the stressful everyday life. Hiking therefore also has a positive influence on mental health. Everyone determines the speed and length of the route for themselves.

Popular hiking areas are for example low mountain range regions such as the Taunus, the Eifel, the Sauerland and the Harz Mountains. There are extensive networks of hiking trails with different degrees of difficulty. These range from easy, flat short routes to challenging mountain routes.

You can either hike day tours or multi-day stages and have the choice between guided and individual hikes. Local hiking clubs also offer themed hikes, for example forest educational trails, cultural hikes or via ferratas. Depending on the severity of the route, hiking is also suitable for children and the elderly. Even cardiovascular patients and asthmatics benefit from regular light exercise.

Hiking promotes health

Hiking has a positive effect on all body functions and helps to effectively prevent diseases. The physical strain of hiking trains that Cardiovascular system. Both the pulse and blood pressure can be lowered and the elasticity of the blood vessels improves, as does the flow properties of the blood. In this way you can prevent a heart attack.

The physical exertion stimulates the metabolism and the Fat burning and reduces obesity. At the same time, hiking lowers the Blood sugar level and with it the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Even when hiking through a slightly hilly area, the body burns up to per hour 300 calories. You can adapt the hiking routes to your personal fitness at any time and slowly increase the degree of difficulty. In this way, the condition continuously increase by hiking.

Thanks to the holistic movement, all muscles are stressed when hiking, but especially your leg, back and abdominal muscles. These are particularly important for the stability of the spine and body balance. Hiking trains precisely these areas and strengthens the entire trunk area - the spine is relieved and the mobility of the entire body is improved.

Hiking - ideal sport for asthma

Exercise in the fresh air has multiple positive effects on chronic respiratory diseases such as asthma or COPD. Those who hike regularly will be improved Respiratory volume and ensures that the airways become less sensitive to stimuli. But not only disease-related complaints are decreasing, that too immune system is strengthened by regular exercise in the fresh air. Especially when the risk of infection increases in the cold season, the body's defenses are much better positioned. Cold viruses and other pathogens have less chance of making life difficult for you. That is why people whose airways are very susceptible to infection should exercise a lot in the fresh air. Hay fever allergy sufferers and asthmatics should however find out about the current local Pollen count and weather forecasts to inform.

How hikers can protect themselves from injury

Those who go beyond their physical limits can only enjoy the relaxing effect of nature little and also risk discomfort in the joints, ligaments, tendons and muscles. As a general rule, you should only walk so fast that you can talk to your hiking partner without being out of breath.

So that when hiking, not the Joints mountaineers should think less of the summit than of the descent. "The greatest burden must be knee endure when things go downhill, "says Andreas Gassen, former President of the Professional Association of Specialists for Orthopedics and Trauma Surgery (BVOU)." If the hikers are already exhausted, their step becomes unsteady - and an injury to the joints is more and more likely. "

Gassen recommends that people with a correspondingly high level of stress should assess their strength realistically when planning a route. Steep climbs, scree fields or uneven terrain are taboo for them. And when hiking at higher altitudes, the following applies: Since the thin air supplies less oxygen, the muscles relax earlier than usual. Inexperienced hikers should not go on an alpine tour straight away, but rather train in the low mountain range first.

"Strong muscles are the best protection against joint injuries," explains Gassen. The even, gentle movement during Cycle prepare your legs to take the strain off your knees on a hiking excursion. swim is ideal for strengthening the back muscles. "But be careful: breaststroke may put strain on the knees. The crawl or backstroke is much healthier for the musculoskeletal system," said the orthopedist.

Everything with you? The right hiking equipment

Before you set off, you shouldn't forget the Weather report catch up and find out where to stop on the way. Of course, the equipment also plays a central role for a relaxed hiking excursion.


Your feet are the most stressed when hiking. Therefore, hiking shoes form the basis of good hiking equipment. Take enough time to choose the right footwear and let experienced salespeople advise you. High-quality hiking shoes have a non-slip sole, ankle protection through reinforced material, breathable inner lining and, if desired, water-repellent upper material. Incidentally, before long and steep descents, you should tighten your shoes again to avoid slipping around in the shoe and thus chafing.

Hikers prefer not to venture into the terrain with shoes that have not yet been worn in. New shoes tire your feet and increase the risk of injury. It is better if the porters run them in on flat terrain. To avoid blisters, you should use special hiking or trekking socks. These are reinforced on the toes, ball of the foot, ankle and heel so that there are no pressure points.

The clothing should be breathable, protect against wind and rain and not restrict it. When hiking: it's better to wear a little less than too much! The movement quickly makes the body sweat. Instead of a few thick layers of clothing, several thin layers have proven effective. So you can put on or take off a shift at any time.

The first layer consists of moisture-repellent functional underwear made of synthetic fiber. Tops made of microfleece are recommended. This material keeps you warm and transports body moisture to the outside. The hiking pants should also be made of light material that does not rub and at the same time keeps you warm. The last layer protects your body from the outside against the elements. Wind- and water-repellent jackets made of breathable material are available in many different designs and for every season. Here, too, it is advisable to get extensive advice before buying!

A so-called "daypack", a smaller backpack with a volume between 15 and 25 liters, is the right equipment for short tours. If you want to hike longer, you should choose a larger model. On many organized tours, you can also have your luggage transported.

Try different backpack models before you decide on a type. Some specialist shops also offer the service of testing a completed model with weights. "For a healthy back, it is crucial that the rucksack is not too heavy and that it sits properly," explains orthopedic surgeon Andreas Gassen. Padded, adjustable shoulder straps and a padded pelvic belt ensure a comfortable seat that relieves the back.

Depending on the route chosen, it is advisable to bring one or two hiking sticks with you: on wide hiking trails with a slight incline, two sticks relieve the musculoskeletal system more evenly. On more demanding routes, on the other hand, it is good to have one hand free in the event of a fall.

If you plan to hike long distances, you should eat a balanced, high-carbohydrate diet, such as potatoes, whole grain breads, cereals, nuts, vegetables, and fruits. Eat several small meals rather than one large one. Make sure you have sufficient water supplies. Drink at least two liters of water, apple spritzer or unsweetened tea. This balances the fluid balance again!

A well-charged cell phone should not be missing. You can call for help in the event of sudden weather changes or injuries. In emergencies, the emergency number 112 is to be dialed. The mountain rescue service can also be reached on this number. If there is no cell phone reception, go to the nearest hut.

From barefoot to snowshoeing

You can also go on a hiking holiday in winter. With good equipment, forays through the snowy nature have their own special charm. In order to prevent unintentional slipping, winter-proof hiking boots with a deep profile are essential.

You can prevent your feet from getting cold if you buy the shoes one size larger. Then a warming sole or even a thick pair of socks fits in. Try socks and stockings with woven silver fibers. They reflect body heat and keep your feet warm and dry. If you are planning a hike through deep snow, you should also do this Snowshoes (available in specialist sports shops and online providers) that can be attached to the hiking boots. Dreamy winter landscapes can also be wonderfully conquered with cross-country skis.

Think of one too Protection for the eyes: Sunglasses with good UV protection are particularly important in winter, as sunlight is reflected and intensified over snow surfaces. Because it gets dark early, there is also one Flashlight or headlamp recommendable.

Special experience: hike barefoot

When was the last time you went barefoot for a long time? As a child? Then it is high time to get back on the ground without wearing footwear. Also for Barefoot runner There are many offers for the right hiking excursion or vacation.

Beginners should take it easy in order to get the cornea used to the new stress and also not to catch a cold. It is best to take the first barefoot steps on a learning course with different surfaces such as grass, gravel, clay, sand, moor or wood. Bark mulch and straw or hay are also pleasantly tickling. Such courses are now offered in many holiday resorts. The uneven surface activates many reflex zones on the sole of the foot and trains the foot muscles in a healthy way.

Hiking routes and maps: Tourist information as a point of contact

Many excursion and holiday destinations have a large selection of detailed information material and, as a rule, have Hiking maps with recommended routes. That is why it is always worth going to the tourist information office before hiking. Here you can also find out which routes should be avoided in the event of physical limitations or which destinations are suitable for seniors or families with children. You can also inquire about guided tours here.

If you would like to find out more about a certain hiking area, the equipment you need and possible accommodation at short notice, and you are looking for an exchange with like-minded people, it is worth taking a look at the Internet. Here you can find contacts and further information about hiking:

  • Hikable Germany: On the website of the Association of German Mountain and Hiking Clubs e.V., you can find out about Germany-wide hiking tours, literature and accommodation options.

  • Wander.de: Here you can find out about national and international hikes. There is also the possibility of personal advice.

  • Fernwege.de: In addition to tour tips across Europe, there are also maps to order and a forum for mutual exchange.

  • Wanderkompass.de: On this website you will find constantly updated hiking and long-distance hiking routes as well as a selection of popular pilgrimage routes in Germany.

There is also a large number of books in bookshops and on the internet for hiking enthusiasts and those interested. There you will find maps and hiking guides sorted by region as well as tips for the right clothing and diet.