There has been a long debate over hiking and whether it should be considered a sport or a hobby. Those who are hikers know that similar to sports in many ways. Those who do not hike think it is more a hobby than a sport. I understand how someone can be confused by this, so I created a guide to help you reach your conclusion.
In this guide, I will tell you everything you need to know about hiking and sports, what separates the two, and what makes them similar. To add, I will talk about sports, how they compare to hiking and some of the reasons you should consider hiking. If you want to learn more about these topics, stick around for the guide!
Table of Contents
Is Hiking Considered Sports?
There are many arguments that people can make on this topic, depending on their stance. The first thing that comes to my mind is to look into the definitions of these two terms to see if there are any similarities between the two terms.
According to dictionary.com, sport is "an athletic activity requiring skill or physical prowess and often of a competitive nature, as racing, baseball, tennis, golf, bowling, wrestling, boxing, hunting, fishing, etc." The same dictionary defines hiking as "a long walk or march for recreational activity, military training, or the like."
As you read these definitions, you must notice that they have more differences than similarities. There is only one similarity, which is the fact that there is a certain amount of physicality involved in sports and hiking.
So, sports and hiking both involve physical activity. Aside from that, there are no similarities but a ton of differences. Let us look into those in more detail:
Hiking is a type of physical activity that does not require any special skills. With hiking alone, there is no skill involved and no training per se. The only things needed are good physical fitness and care to avoid injuring oneself.
The same cannot be said for real sports, as any sport requires skill. Athletes train day in and day out. They put in hours at the gym, follow a strict diet, and what else not. With hiking, you enjoy nature as you trek at your own pace and without needing to train beforehand.
Another thing that separates hiking and sports is the audience. Sports are something you do as a way to entertain an audience. It can be an individual or a team sport, but this would still be true. The individual or team competes as the audience watches and cheers and awaits to see the game's outcome.
With hiking, there is never any audience unless you consider the hikers in the hiking clubs to be a kind of audience. Even then, no one hikes as a way to entertain someone else. Hiking is an activity hikers do for themselves, so it lacks an entertaining nature.
Rules and Regulations
Again, sports and hiking are different because a specific body that imposes rules and regulations governs all kinds of sports you can think of. Think of a football game – there are referees, flags are thrown for broken rules, and the game is limited to 60 minutes divided into four quarters. These are all rules and regulations of the game.
With hiking, there is no governing body and no rules at all. Imagine a hike where you are told that you have to finish in 60 minutes and take breaks every 15 minutes. If you do something like put your backpack down or stop using the trekking poles, you break the rules and are punished. Sounds silly, right?!
Another thing that separates sports and hiking is the competition. You must know how every sport is competitive in one way or another. You have an individual or a team competing against another individual or team. You get points that contribute towards the final score that decides the winner.
With hiking even though there are some hiking competitions, you will not see a competitive side to the activity. Everyone who goes hiking does it for the physical and mental benefits it gives. It is never about reaching the peak first or finishing within a given timeline. Hiking is not a competition, so it cannot be considered a sport.
Hiking Races and Competitions
You will not come across many hiking races or competitions because those kinds of races are rare. It is more likely to find hiking as a part of some other race, perhaps one that involves mountain biking, trail running, or mountain climbing.
An experienced hiker might have heard of competitive hiking on specific trails like the Appalachian Trail or the Pacific Crest Trail. Even though this can be seen as a kind of competition, it is racing to beat a specific time. It is not racing with other hikers on the trail as you hike along it.
If you want to hike and do it as a competitive activity, you can find the fastest time someone has hiked a particular trail and try to beat that time. It might take you some training and specialty gear to get through the hike fast, but it will be worth it when you set a new record for that trail!
Sports Considered Similar to Hiking
There are a few sports that remind me of hiking but are not actual hikes. The first is trail running, where you take a steep trail and run through it while competing with other runners for the fastest time. Still, this type of activity does not involve strict rules and regulations, so it is not a sport per se.
Another sport I want to mention is geocaching. This is a treasure hunt you do on a hiking trail or in the steep mountains. All you get is a GPS or map that you use to find clues that will take you to the treasure. There can be an app that helps you find the clues.
The final sport I want to mention is adventure running, which is comparable to trail running. With trail running, you are running towards a specific point on the trail or a peak. With adventure running, you are running toward an object that marks your final destination.
The latter usually involves hiking or trekking, kayaking, and mountain biking. It is more like a competitive sport than any other sports I mentioned, but some still do not consider it a real sport.
Why Is Hiking A Great Hobby? - 5 Reasons
Hiking might not be a sport, but it is one of the best hobbies you could ever have. I enjoy hiking more than anything else and consider it to be life-changing. You can get many benefits from it, some of which you might not even know. So, let’s look into the most significant advantages and reasons why you need to make hiking your new hobby:
Hiking requires a certain level of physical effort. Your muscles all work together to get you through the hike. The muscles on the legs and core take the most beating, whereas you can also work out the arms and shoulders if you use trekking poles.
Within months of hiking and doing it at least once or twice per week, you will notice that your body will look leaner and more toned. You will also lose a lot of weight and become healthier than before.
Hiking is a type of leisure activity that can also have a lot of benefits for your mental health. For one, you get away from your daily life and the chaos of urban environments only to enjoy the peace and quiet of the mountains. You get fresh air and time to relax, making you feel happier, more relaxed, and ready to take on the world with some newfound strength.
Lower stress levels
Yes, hiking is excellent for reducing stress because you get a nice escape from everyday life. Once you get back to your routine, you will have the sceneries from the mountainous areas to look back on, and they will serve as your happy place.
Improved sleep quality
With lower stress levels, you can bet that you will fall asleep faster and have better sleep quality. When you wake up, you will feel much more relaxed and energized than before you ever started hiking.
Nothing can beat the sceneries that mountains and hiking trails can offer. All that greenery with the beautiful smells and the uninterrupted sounds of birds – all these things make hiking an activity worth doing.
Views from a mountain peak or a place right above a canyon or close to a waterfall are all things you will likely witness on a hiking trip. The beautiful sights will undoubtedly make you want to go back for more.
It is better not to consider hiking as a sport because it is not – it lacks rules and regulations. There is no one to enforce rules, no audience, and no competitive aspect. But do not let this stop you from hiking, as it is a fantastic activity that can benefit you in many ways.
If you have the chance to get into it, please do, as I do not doubt you will like it. Then, you can decide if you want to focus solely on it or combine it with an actual sport.