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It's Hiking Season, But How Many Calories Are You Really Burning?

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When the weather gets colder, one of the most fun ways to keep active is to bundle up and head out for a hike. Whether you're climbing up a rocky mountain side or strolling down a wooded path, hiking can feel like a good workout, but how many calories does is really burn?

FitDay explains that some hikers can burn up to 500 calories an hour while hiking if they're carrying along at a quick enough pace. Aside from your speed, other factors play a role in how many calories you'll burn while hiking, such as the weight of your pack and the incline of your walk. As a general rule, the harder you have to work to move uphill or forward, the more calories you'll burn. 

But it isn't just the calorie-burning that can make a hike a smart exercise routine, FitDay pointed to it as a great way to force yourself to walk. 

"If you spend an hour hiking away from your car, you'll have to spend another hour hiking back to your car. Even if you don't make it all the way to the top of the mountain or hike all 40 miles of the trail, you'll have to hike just to get back to civilization. Unless you quit within the first mile or so, you'll get good exercise and burn fat no matter what you do," Fit Day explained.

Calculate your own calorie count 
Everyone burns calories at different rates due to their metabolism, weight and gender, but there are some tools that can help you figure out your number.

Runner's World magazine explained that often the calorie count you see with some workouts isn't as accurate as you'd like. Frequently, companies display total calorie burn statistics rather than net calorie burn numbers which help account for things such as your metabolism, so that you know how many calories are burned by that exercise in particular rather than just during that time period. 

If you're walking between 3 and 4 miles per hour on a hike you should multiply your weight by 0.30 to get your net calorie burn per hour, according to Runner's World. Of course, walking faster can increase this number. In fact, The magazine explained that at speeds of 5 mph or above, walking actually burns more calories than running. 

So next time you're trying to figure out how to get your blood pumping, mix yourself a low-calorie, green smoothie in you personal blender and go for a hike. Consult your doctor before athletic activity, and remember these are suggestion, not strict directives.