We all know what walking is, and in fact, some of us started to walk at the age of 1. Walking is using our feet one step at a time, in a normal, casual way. People also understand that hiking is associated with walking, but they wanted to know what is the specific difference. Today, in this article, we will discuss their differences and how they vary from each other.
So, what’s the difference between walking and hiking? Walking is typically a casual activity done in a more urban environment or on a road/sidewalks. Hiking, is better defined by taking to the trails and being out to immerse yourself more deeply in nature. There is also some elevation change that usually comes with hiking. Like reaching a summit or traveling along a ridge line.
Comparing Energy and Effort Needed for Each
Hiking requires more effort than walking because the terrain on the hiking trails are more challenging. As you hike, your body uses more energy to move on rough, hilly roads. It is only called walking if the road you are taking is uneven and does not have to be hilly or steep.
Route And Path Determines What You’ll Do
A significant difference between hiking and walking terrains would be that hiking is usually on natural rougher paths and walking is done on worn or constructed paths. Walking paths are typically concrete, gravel, asphalt, and sand. Man-made roads are often flat and smooth while hiking paths, on the other hand, are in the woods, reserved parks, and the mountains that are often rocky and steep. It’s common to cross a creek during a hike while casual walk would have a bridge.
Ideal Places for Walking and Hiking
Walking and hiking are fun and exciting ways to lose excess body fat and burn calories. However, not all places are safe and ideal for these kinds of activities. Choosing the correct places to perform these simple exercises surely gives you the maximum benefit.
Walking is done on the surfaces like walking along the beach, walking on concrete or asphalt, gravel or move from one place to another or just around the house will do. Walking is easier because the movements are constant and you might not walk too far. Hiking is going on certain paths in outdoor areas such as hills, mountains, and even on open parks.
A Walk in the Park
When we were young, our first walking experience was done in the park. A walk through a windy park filled with trees and flowers promotes a good and positive mood. You can let go of whatever is bothering you, free your mind from stress and breathe fresh air. Forget about your problems. Just feel the fresh atmosphere while walking casually or doing brisk walking.
Walking in the park also increases self-confidence and self-esteem as you get to meet people from your neighborhood or nearby places. A walk in the park gives you peace and more quiet time. It is a very rare occasion when you find yourself in peace and not dealing with traffic and busy street noises. Walking in the park is very relaxing and well worth a day trip.
Nature Walk in the Woods
In Japan, it is called Shinrin-yoku, which means “forest bathing”. Walking in the woods is like being one with nature. You enjoy the air, the scenery, and the scent of green leaves and Earth. You hear the chirping of birds as well as the sounds of wild animals living in the forest, not to mention the gash of water flowing from a stream or the sound of your own breathing.
Aside from the gift of nature, there are numerous health benefits of walking in the woods. The forest scent could easily reduce stress and could also improve mental help, especially to the people who suffer from depression. A forest surrounded with trees helps in maintaining good memory and improve cognitive skills in children. A slow, casual walk in the woods reduces loneliness and bothersome as Mother Nature brings you inner peace.
Walking in the forest is an amazing escape if you only want to see nature around you without having to take a difficult path.
Walk Along the Beach
According to Euripides, “the sea washes away the ills of all mankind”. There is nothing more peaceful and calm than listening to the waves of the sea while the sun is warming your body, and the wind is wrapping you with its gentle breeze. Walking barefoot on the sand provides a lot of benefits. Aside from feeling the Earth on your feet, the sand also massages your soles which stimulates lymphatic and venous veins circulation.
The healing power of the ocean decreases stress level, improves the respiratory system, strengthen the immune system, and brings serenity and peace of mind. Saltwater carries negative ions which help the body absorb oxygen. It also stimulates positive physiological changes.
Hiking Uphill or Downhill
Everyone knows that hiking is a great form of exercise. Going uphill and reaching the top is a major achievement, and going downhill is not important. According to research, hiking uphill is a form of muscle-shortening exercise while hiking downhill is muscle-strengthening. Both uphill and downhill hiking decreased bad cholesterol level by 10%, regulates blood sugar, and enhance glucose tolerance.
It is important to pay attention to your knees while hiking downhill. Take simple precautions such as walking slowly, do not jump down, take smaller steps, do not go straight down the slope and if possible, take a zigzag route.
Hiking in the Mountain
One of the best things about mountain hike is being connected with nature. Studies prove that physical outdoor activities are good for mental well-being, decreased the level of anger and tension, increased energy level, and reduced the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
Mountain hiking also tones the whole body as it is equivalent to a full-body workout. Hiking in the mountains let you set your own speed and pace. You are not in a race, and you don’t have to rush or be in a hurry. You just have to enjoy the breeze up on the mountain, the beauty of nature and simply work on your relaxed pace. You take control of your hiking session. Whether you want it long or short, you can always increase the intensity or length.
Because hiking usually occurs in places like mountains, the speed you use can vary. Your step speed depends on the height, slope, and terrain where you are.
Appropriate Clothing During A Walk VS A Hike
It is essential to have the right clothes to use in hiking and walking because you never can tell how the weather and terrain can affect your activity. You can go for a walk even with your jeans and shirt as long as you are comfortable. However, it all depends on the kinds of walk you will be taking. If you aim for a long walk in the woods or in the park, here are some of the things you should consider.
While walking, you usually wear jogging clothes if you aim for a little sweating. And rather than wearing solid boots, you should wear rubber shoes or walking shoes.
Walking in a Winter Wonderland
During a winter walk, choose the clothes that are directly in contact with your body must be light and absorbs sweat. Use tanks or shirts made with acrylic or synthetic materials. Do not use cotton as it slowly dries while it absorbed moisture. Also, use nylon leggings or tights under your jogging pants as protection of your feet.
Wear layers of clothes that absorb moisture, repel the wind and rain, and keep your body warm against the cold weather. Use walking shoes that have flexible soles. See if you can bend or rotate your shoes using your hands as it will be difficult for your feet to take each step if your shoe sole is not flexible.
Use a hat to cover your head, and your whole body becomes warm. Winter hat features include earmuffs and bills that allow you to shade your face to keep you warm against the cold weather. Your hat must be waterproof as well.
Walking in Sunshine
For summer walk, choose shirts or tops that are comfortable. In winter you have to put on layers, but in summer, only warm and comfy shirts will do. Best is to wear short-sleeved tops to keep you cool. Walking shorts are essential as well. You have to choose comfortable shorts and legs must be free to move.
This will prevent you from getting sweaty all day. A summer hat and sunglasses to protect your head and eyes from direct sunlight is also a must. You also need sturdy walking shoes made of breathable fabric and lightweight.
Happy Winter Hiking
On a cold winter breeze and you go on hiking, the best outfit would be thick pants or trousers, warm tops, and moss shirts. However, you can consider adding a thermal layer if the weather is frigid. When it comes to shoes, hiking shoes are the best choice because they provide heat and a lot of grip on slippery ground. And lastly, do not forget to wear a beanie hat to protect your head against the cold winter weather.
Hiking Fun in the Sun
If you go on hiking during summer, choose bright and light clothes. Try tanks that are light and can breathe above a sports bra for women. Depending on your location, choose shorts or leggings. Then complete your outfit with slick sports shoes and sunglasses. Do not forget to apply sunscreen during the trip so that your skin does not burn. You might want to put on a hat to protect your face from those dangerous sun rays.
Extra Gear You’ll Need For A Walk VS A Hike
When hiking, you should bring the correct hiking equipment. A casual walk doesn’t require any equipment or gear. On the other hand, if you are planning for a long walk, you have to bring additional things or gear with you.
Hikers are usually packed with comfortable hiking gear, hiking shoes, and even carry hiking sticks with them. Taking a little time to prepare and purchase the right kit and equipment saves you a lot of problems at the end of the day. Hikers also need a number of things to set up, such as the things inside of their backpacks.
Optional Gear for Walking
Some walking supplements you have to bring if needed:
- Sunglasses with good UVA/UVB filtering
- Map and compass or a GPS
- Emergency Whistle
- Small First Aid Kit
- Mobile Phone, power bank or extra battery
- Some coins for a public phone
- Drinks and Snacks
- Torch and flashlight
- Extra pair of socks
- MP3 player
- An extra bottle of water
Required Gear for Hiking
Hiking additionally includes camping nights. Most often than not, hiking is always associated with camping as hiking is commonly done in the forest on the mountain path, where you need to rest and set up your tent.
List of essential things you must bring:
* Identification Card (ID)
* Shoes or boots designed for the length and terrain of your hike
* Extra socks
* Mid / Heavy-weight fleece or pile jacket
* Extra jacket and pants
* Wool or fleece hat
* Water: full canteens and container, water bottles or hydration pack
* Extra food: high energy snack bars
* Trail Map or Guidebook
* Compass or GPS
* Emergency Blanket
* Waterproof matches or fire starter
* Pocket knife
* Flashlight or headlamp together with new batteries, extra batteries
* Storm Whistle (for emergency purposes)
* Small mirror (for emergency purposes)
* A few yards of cord
* First aid kit
* Personal medications
* Moleskin that you could use for blisters
* Insect repellent
* Sun protection like sunglasses, lip balm, and sunscreen
* Baseball style hat / Wide-brimmed hat or baseball-style hat for protection against harmful rays of the sun
* Some zip-lock bags
* Napkins for women in case of monthly period
* Toilet paper wrapped in a plastic bag
Benefits of Walking
Good Form of Exercise
Studies show that walking is beneficial not only physically, but also psychologically. Short walks of 30-45 minutes a day can help you fight disease and depression and boost your self-esteem.
Increase Life Expectancy
In this sense, because we all want to live longer, we must consider whether we want to do more. Besides, walking reduces the risk of diabetes, heart disease, anxiety, and helps you burn calories.
The best part of walking is that you save extra money on gasoline and car costs like car insurance. It is a great deal than buying a car.
Benefits of Hiking
Connection to Mother Earth
One of the most significant benefits of hiking is to see the stunning scenery and natural view that you can enjoy. Additionally, there are also amazing parks around the city that offer awesome landscapes.
Keeping the Body Fit and Strong
Hiking also offers a lot of health benefits like weight loss and decrease the anxiety level while keeping you warm and calm.
Study shows, however, that you have additional health advantages being around with nature or near plants and trees than walking along the sidewalks.
Hiking and walking are both exciting, but if you are looking for an ultimate outdoor experience, go for hiking. Hiking is a great time for adventure, time with friends, adrenaline rush, and feel the gift of nature. Walking and hiking are thrilling and exciting recreations for one and all. Now, if you happen to be a little adventurous and daredevil, then it is advisable to hike with your friends.
The more the company, the merrier is the expedition. On the other hand, if you are not in the mood for a bit of adrenaline rush, go for a walk instead.
Walking is done on flat, hard, and level surfaces without any obstruction while hiking is done on rocky mountains, hills, and terrains with rough surfaces. Walking does not need special equipment or gear while hiking needs appropriate hiking kits and equipment.
Walking is not much of a challenge, it is a regular routine of people and yet still burns fats and calories as well as lose weight while hiking needs a little push, energy and stamina to keep you in the proper place and position. Pacing is also essential in hiking.
In walking, you are moving on a reasonably smooth or fine track without obstacles. Hiking requires more effort more than walking because the trail is more complicated. Hiking means you are moving from a lower to a higher place or in elevation.
Erick is a freelance writer and outdoor enthusiast. Growing up in Nairobi Kenya and now calling Glasgow, United Kingdom home. Sipping on homemade spiced swahili tea and enjoying a good book is his idea of bliss.