Running for the Hills for Health

When you spot that first hill and think, it won’t be so bad, you have no idea what’s coming. We all know that running uphill is harder than flat ground, but it’s not just the intensity of the workout that makes these types of runs more challenging. Running uphill is more physically taxing on your body because it requires more strength and acceleration to keep moving forward. In general, your body must work harder to break a sweat simply because you are climbing up an incline instead of gliding across flat land. However, this doesn’t mean you should avoid hill running at all costs. When performed safely and effectively as part of a balanced exercise routine, hill running can provide numerous benefits for your health and fitness level.

Build Stronger Muscles

Hills are a great way to build muscle and burn fat at the same time, which can lead to weight loss and a healthier body composition. This is because muscles help your body burn calories, so the more muscle you have, the more calories you will burn throughout the day. When performing a hill workout, you are lifting your own body weight up the incline, which means you are strengthening your muscles. This will help you perform better in other workouts, such as lifting weights and doing bodyweight exercises, which can help lead to better results. Stronger muscles also help increase joint health and reduce the risk of injury. This is especially true if you are lifting weights, but it also applies to other forms of exercise. Stronger muscles can support your joints and help reduce pain and discomfort in the knees, hips, ankles, and back.

Improves Cardio Health

Running or walking hills is a great way to increase your level of cardiovascular fitness and improve your overall health. This is because it is a high-intensity workout that will cause your heart rate to increase and make you sweat. When you perform aerobic exercises, such as hill running, you increase your heart rate and breathing rate, which burns more calories and fat. This can help you lose weight, lower your blood pressure, improve your cholesterol levels, and lower your risk of heart disease. As you become more physically fit, you will also notice improvements in your posture and how you feel throughout the day. Cardiovascular exercises, such as walking or running hills, can improve your mental health by reducing anxiety and improving self-esteem.

Burns More Calories

Running uphill is more challenging than a level run, and you will likely burn more calories while doing it. Typically, a person burns between 100 and 300 calories per mile of running, but this depends on several factors, including your weight and the surface you’re running on. You can expect to burn more calories when running an incline because it makes the activity more intense and challenging. Running uphill causes your heart rate to increase due to the greater effort required to move your body forward. Depending on the steepness of the incline, you can burn up to 50% more calories than you would run on a level surface. If you weigh 150 pounds, you can expect to burn around 367 calories running at a 9-minute mile pace on level ground and 531 calories if you run the same distance on a 7% incline.

Strengthen Core and Balance

Strengthening your core muscles will help you stay injury free and perform better in other workouts. Running hills is a great way to do this because you are lifting your body up an incline. While this type of exercise is challenging, it can help improve your posture by strengthening your core muscles. This can help you stand up straighter when you are standing still and also make your daily activities, like lifting heavy items, easier and less stressful on your joints. Hill running can also help you improve your balance and prevent falls. As you climb the incline, you are putting more pressure on each foot, and this can help you strengthen your ankles and improve your balance.

Tread Carefully With Hills

When you are starting to build up your fitness routine, you may want to avoid hill workouts. This is because starting with an intense cardio workout can be too difficult for people who are out of shape. You can get many of the same benefits from other types of exercises, such as using an incline on a treadmill or stationary bike, which can be easier on your joints. If you want to try hill running, start out with a very short incline that allows you to walk up the hill. Avoiding injury is important when trying to increase your level of physical activity, so try to avoid overly ambitious goals. You can also ease into hill running by running on a treadmill. If you are new to running hills, it can be helpful to have someone nearby who can spot you in case you need assistance getting back up the hill.


Running uphill is more challenging than running on a level surface, but it can provide many health benefits. It is important to start slowly and avoid overdoing it to prevent injury. If you want to improve your fitness level, lose weight, and build strength, try adding hill running to your exercise routine. You can either do this on a treadmill or find a hill outdoors near your house.