5 Hiking Exercises



Your Hiking Skills

It’s good to do some hiking exercises to help strengthen your body and muscles for general hiking abilities.

Hiking itself is a great exercise. However, it’s often low impact and doesn’t give you the strengthening you need to improve.

Going uphill on a steeper hiking trail might quickly remind you how out of shape you might be. This always happens in winter because I get too cold to do my other exercises. As a result, I suffer from that. It’s a problem I and others need to address.

But we can do some great hiking exercises to strengthen our muscles without breaking the bank or killing ourselves in the process.

Hiking Exercises for Improving Hiking

Let’s look at easier but practical hiking exercises that improve our overall ability to hike in more moderate conditions than we’re typically used to.


1 – Cycling

Cycling is one of my favorite types of exercise to improve my overall hiking experience. Cycling is good for your knees and legs. It builds strength and has a low impact on injuries from performing the exercise routine. Cycling is also a lot of fun. However, it doesn’t feel like exercise.

There are different types of cycling, too. You can spin inside on a recumbent bike with friends. You can make single-track mountain bike trails. You can ride on rail trails and bike paths free of motor vehicles. And my favorite is that you can road bike, get great distances, and work on hill climbing.

Many hikers choose biking to add to their list of hiking exercises to participate in.

Hiking Exercises

2 – Trail Running

Trail running is an excellent form of fitness to improve overall hiking. It’s often described as hiking but at a swift pace. You’re experiencing nature like you would while hiking but exercising too. Trail running doesn’t always mean you have to run the whole time. You can jog or just hiker at a quick pace. Power walking on the trail is a good form of lower-impact trail running.

When trail running for the sake of hiking exercises, focus on different terrains to help build your strength up. For example, run on some flat trails when you start out to get a feel for their exercise. Then gradually graduate to hillier conditions. You might even want to participate in some of the competitions out there for trail running.

Trail running is a beautiful way to enjoy nature while strengthening yourself as a hiker.


3 – Running

Running, in general, will help you improve your hiking exercises and fitness routines. Running can be a high-impact exercise. You must ensure you take precautions and stretch as your body warms up. However, running will help you lose weight and become a stronger hiker.

Many people start out with running by working up to be able to run a 5k which is 3.1 miles. There is a great program available called Couch to 5K that will help you accomplish this. After you can comfortably run a 5K, you can do some charity runs to help you strengthen yourself as a runner.

As you continue to run, consider competing in half and full marathons to challenge yourself.


4 – Walking and Hiking

Walking is excellent exercise. Hiking is great exercise. Combine the two for the best results. When you can’t go for a hike, go for a walk instead. If you can hike more often, go for more hikes. Take advantage of parks and walking paths.

Try to mix up your terrain and the technical aspects of hiking exercises. Hike and walk in hillier areas. Try to get steeper hills each time you go out. Go to areas with longer trails or paths and try to do longer trips each time. Participate in hiking and walking groups to help keep you motivated to keep going. You should try to hike at least or walk every day.

Sometimes the best way to improve your hiking ability is to hike more. When hiking isn’t currently available, walking is the next best thing.


5 – Stretching

Stretching is vital for hiking exercises. Stretching helps you become more flexible. It helps to relieve strains and tightness in your muscles. There are good and bad ways to stretch, however. It’s essential to understand how and when to stretch.

You don’t want to stretch before you start hiking. Your body is cold, and stretching can lead to injury and strain. Instead, wait until you’ve hiked for about twenty or thirty minutes. Your muscles have warmed up by then, and it’s safer and more effective to stretch. First, stretch your legs, knees, and feet. Next, stretch your neck, back, arms, and hands. Stretching should never be done until you feel pain from it.

Try to make stretching a habit. Consider joining a Yoga class to help you with stretching and hiking exercises.


Hiking exercises will help you be a stronger hiker. It’ll help you hike longer and on more rugged trail conditions. The exercises above are perfect for you to do. However, you need to ensure that you don’t overdo them and get hurt in the process. Before doing any significant exercise routines, I recommend you talk with your doctor first. If you’ve enjoyed this article and want to see more of it, subscribe to my free monthly newsletter today.

Please Support Hiking with Shawn

Alrighty folks, I hope you have enjoyed this content. I provide it for free and it takes a while to create. If you would be so kind enough to support my efforts, you can do so by sharing this post with others, especially on social media. Be sure to subscribe to my YouTube Channel to see my latest videos, shorts and live streams. Follow me on FacebookInstagramTwitter and TikTok for unique content that you will only find on those pages. You might also join my Southern Illinois Hiking & Outdoor Resources Group on Facebook, too!

You can also support me by becoming a Patreon Supporter for as little as $3/month and you can cancel anytime (no contracts or catches). Patreons get access to extra features, exclusive articles, sticker packs, gifts and more. Consider buying official Hiking with Shawn Merchandise as another way to support me. I spend a lot of money on Hiking with Shawn and because of extremely high public land permit fees, I make very little money in return so everything helps.

Thanks again for checking out another one of my articles and until next time, I’ll see you on the trail!

Shawn Gossman

Shawn Gossman

Founder, Hiking with Shawn

Howdy folks! My name is Shawn Gossman and I founded Hiking with Shawn. I’m an avid hiker, cyclist and outdoorsman here in the Shawnee National Forest. I was born and raised in Southern Illinois and never want to leave. Click here to learn more about Shawn Gossman

Subscribe Today!

Get Your FREE Gift Now!

Subscribe to the official Hiking with Shawn Newsletter and get a free gift! The newsletter is free, sent once a month, and contains exclusive articles, tips, offers, contests, and upcomig events that you won't find anywhere else. You can unsubscribe anytime with ease. Subscribe now (for a limited time only) and get my free 70+ page 35 Hiking Trails of Southern Illinois Guide. This PDF will be sent to your email right after you subscribe (check your junkmail just in case and add me as a contact). I hope to see you on the mailing list!

Thanks for subscribing! Go check your email!