Trail running for weight loss

Trail Running for Weight Loss

If you decided to take back control in your life and want to lose weight, tone up, and improve your fitness and health, then trail running could be just the right thing for you. 

Compared to road running, trail running burns 10% more calories while improving agility and balance.

It’s a fun activity that will not only help you lose weight and give you the body you have always wanted, but it will also bring you a whole list of benefits that will make your life better. 

This article will give you all the needed information about the benefit of trail running for weight loss and provide more details about how to get started.

Table of Contents

The benefits of trail running for weight loss

Heading off-road is not just about spending time outside and admiring the nature around you (although it’s also an important part of it). Trail running will take your fitness to a whole new level, and you will be amazed by the results quickly. So what are the actual benefits of trail running for weight loss?

You activate more muscles

What makes this type of training harder is the uneven terrain which demands more lateral movements. This means that more muscle groups are involved during the run. If you’re more of a visual type of person, just imagine your body movements while trying to run and avoid rocky batches and branches along the way.

While treadmill and/or road running are excellent for activating major muscle groups, trail running also activates your stabilizing muscles, which activates and strengthens more muscle groups at once and makes this type of exercising more effective. 

It reduces stress and positively impacts your well-being

One of the most significant advantages of trail running comes in the form of an endorphin rush. Neurotransmitters released by the brain during and after your run stimulate the central nervous system and eliminate fatigue and stress. You will notice positive changes in your mood already after your first run. Not to mention what kind of impact spending time off-road will have after doing it regularly for a longer period. If we’re talking about weight loss, feeling better and staying in a good mood will help with issues like binge eating, which is connected to our emotional state.

It engages your brain

Spending time in nature and letting your mind wander around feels great! However, trail running does require a certain level of concentration. Being fully engaged during your run will help you reach your fitness goals much faster and improve your overall focus. Staying focused is also one of the keys to keeping a successful and balanced diet. 

It feels like an adventure

If you’re tired of spending time in the gym, exploring new, hidden corners in nature will give you a sense of adventure. The best part is that each trail is different and brings something completely new, allowing you to learn how to stay present during your run and enjoy the beautiful environments that you would not otherwise have the opportunity to see and experience. You will soon lose the feeling of “having to run so you could lose weight,” and you will be looking forward to your next adventure.

What does trail running do to your body?

Running on trails will do wonders for your body. The resistance of running uphill improves leg strength, while running downhill improves ankle strength and flexibility. The uneven ground will also improve your balance. As your smaller stabilizing muscles get activated, the final result of regular trail running is a great sense of balance, body awareness, and amazing-looking strong abs.

How to get started?

Choose less demanding trails at the beginning

For running on more demanding terrains, you will need to gain some experience to avoid injuries. Another thing you should always keep in mind is that nature plays by its own rules, so you need to be careful and choose only safe trails. The goal is to enjoy the benefits that trail running brings without endangering yourself in any way.

Grab the right gear

A great thing about trail running is that you don’t need fancy equipment to get started. As you’ll probably get pretty dirty, especially if you’re running in a more rugged environment, make sure to avoid wearing your favorite pieces of clothing or anything that you wouldn’t like to get messy or ripped.

As for shoes, your running sneakers will be just fine in the beginning. Later on, you can upgrade to trail-specific footwear, but this won’t be necessary until you start choosing trails with rougher terrain.

Put safety first

Start with the right mindset and think about trail running with the same precautions you would use for hiking. Let someone know where you’re going, and make sure to have a map and your cellphone by your side in case you get lost.

Don’t be lazy about doing some research about the wildlife of your trail area so you can be prepared and avoid any unpleasant surprises.

And while probably most of us just love running while listening to our favorite music or podcast, leaving your headphones at home is a smart move when it comes to trail running. You want to make sure you’re conscious about where you’re stepping to avoid injuries. It will also be much easier to notice what is happening in nature around you (and react if needed).

Take it slow

I know that your goal is to lose weight as soon as possible, but just like with any other physical activity, you need to take it slow initially. Trail running can be pretty challenging, so if you’re not able to run at first, just walk when you get tired. As you become stronger and in better shape, slightly increase the intensity and level of difficulty of the chosen trail.

Remember, slow and continuous progress will bring you the desired results. The goal of trail running is not only to lose weight but also to make a change in your mindset. And nature has always been the best motivator! As your body begins to change, you become stronger and start feeling better; you will realize that the benefits of trail running are far greater than just the physical appearance (although it is also a very important element of the process).

While instant solutions may sound appealing, they’re only a short-term solution and will very quickly launch you back in the direction of old unhealthy life habits. Change your mindset and track your progress until you reach your goals. Trust me; it will be worth it!


Trail running is a great way to get in shape, lose weight, and improve your health. Whether you’re looking for an alternative workout routine or just want to explore the beauty of nature on foot, trail running might be the perfect thing for you.

This article has provided some helpful tips about choosing trails with less demanding terrain at first, what gear will work best, and safety precautions. Start today by finding an accessible trail near you, then grab your gear and get started! You will not regret it.