Hiking has become increasingly popular in recent years as people seek to get outside and explore nature while breaking a sweat. But is hiking a sport? This question baffles many.
A sport is a physical activity in which two parties compete against each other, displaying their skills and trying to score the most points. What if someone applied competition to their morning hike?
In this article, we will explore the debate over whether hiking is a sport and examine the physical and mental challenges it presents.
An Insight Into Hiking
Hiking is a physical activity where you have to walk or trek for long distances in natural environments such as mountains, forests, and parks.
It suits individuals of almost all ages. Elders and kids can go on easy terrain, while youngsters can tackle challenging routes. Hiking can be done alone or in a group for recreation, exercise, sightseeing, or exploration.
This physical activity offers a wide range of benefits for both physical and mental health.
Let’s talk about the physical advantages. Hiking can help improve cardiovascular fitness, strengthen muscles, increase stamina, and improve balance.
Hiking greatly helps those who deal with depression and anxiety as well. It allows them to connect with nature and get some fresh air. Not only this, but it can also help sharpen your navigation and coordination skills.
Is Hiking a Sport?
So, is hiking a sport? The answer to this question is not so straightforward. Hiking does involve physical activity and fitness. Still, it doesn’t necessarily fit the traditional definition of a sport.
The Oxford English Dictionary said it best. A sport is “an activity that you do for pleasure, and that needs physical effort or skill, usually done in a special area and according to fixed rules.”
This definition suggests that a sport must involve physical exertion, competition, and entertainment. Even though hiking is a physical activity, it is not usually competitive in nature.
If hiking were a sport, it’s obvious that it would involve running. When it leans more towards running, it falls into a marathon category, and there is a sport for that — trail running.
If you start running on terrain, you are no longer hiking. You have now entered the zone of trail running. There’s a high chance that the hiking terrain might be used as a track for trail running or mountain biking – a proper sport.
The main factor that excludes hiking from being a sport is its lack of competition. There is no governing body or set of rules to enforce this as a competition. For now, it’s just a leisure activity with a physical advantage.
Will Hiking Become a Sport?
It might be possible for hiking to become a sport. Many challenges make it difficult to develop hiking as a full-fledged sport, however. The biggest of all is the no-running rule. If you start running, it’s not hiking anymore, but it weighs more toward trail running.
It’s hard to enforce the no-running rule because hiking trails are usually very long, which makes it difficult for judges to keep track of everyone.
Hiking could evolve into a proper sport with the help of technology. The regulating body would seek help from artificial intelligence and sensors all along the hiking route. This could help detect if a participant was running.
Another thing that can allow hiking to be an official sport is some sort of motion and speed sensor. It would be hooked onto each participant while it records the speed and movement of the player. These can help the judges to determine if a player is walking or running.
It would be fair if competitors were divided into different pools according to their weights, like in boxing. Lightweight participants would find it easier to hike in contrast to heavyweight individuals.
It’s still not certain if these implementations will be successful. It might require a couple of test runs to guarantee fair competition.
If you enjoy outdoor activities that test your abilities, you could give a shot at skydiving and snowboarding. These feed your soul with adventure and competition. Or, if you are confident about your balance, you can try slacklining.
Spice Up Your Hiking Experience
Hiking can be a great way to explore nature, but it can sometimes get boring. To make it more interesting, you can try mixing things up. Try different routes, explore different areas, and add some challenges.
Try to vary the terrain you hike on. For example, you could try a forest trail, a mountain trail, or a desert trail. You can also give night hiking a shot. This is a great way to experience nature from a different perspective.
If you hike often, it will contribute to your fitness, and eventually, you will find it easy to hike the same terrain. There’s a high chance that you may lose interest in it. To avoid that, you can try several things to make your hike more challenging.
You could try opting for arduous trails with higher elevations. More challenges can make the hike more physically demanding and will test your endurance. You could also try alternate routes with steep and rocky features, which could increase the difficulty.
You can add to your hiking load. Carrying a heavier backpack with more gear or supplies will increase the weight, making the hike more challenging.
Use yourself as friendly competition. Note the total time you took to complete the trail and try beating your record. Beating yourself will push you to increase your pace and cardiovascular exertion level.
You could also make your hike interesting by trying a new trail without using a map or GPS. Try challenging your navigational skills by figuring out the way up and back to the base.
Finally, you can go for a hike in adverse weather conditions. Rainy and snowy weather will require more attention to your stability and grip. On the other hand, humid and hot weather will exhaust you quickly.
No doubt hiking is a great adventure. Those challenging steep trails might give you an adrenaline rush, but you should also be aware of the possible risks.
Before you go hiking, research the route you’re going to take. Make sure that you’re familiar with the terrain. It’s also important to carry the proper hiking gear. You’ll need a map, compass, and first aid kit.
To stay on the safer side, you should inform somebody about your plans. Always tell someone where you’re going and when you’ll be back.
Hiking requires great stamina and allows you to test your physical ability. You can enjoy nature while training your body.
Because it involves physical activity and requires skill, is hiking a sport?
This article has answered this question in detail. We have concluded that it cannot be considered a sport because it lacks competition.
However, there are plenty of ways to spice up your hiking experience. You can hike on difficult terrain or try beating your own records to make it interesting.
With that being said, it’s also important to be mindful of the risk factors. Happy Hiking!