This Is What Happens to Your Body on a Thru-Hike

The secret to ultimate fitness isn’t all that complicated—just spend a month outside, hiking eight hours per day. Kyle Boelte breaks down how his body evolved into an efficient, fat-burning, testosterone-fueled machine over 29 days on the Colorado Trail.

This summer, my wife and I hiked the Colorado Trail, a 486-mile, high-altitude trek from Denver to Durango. While it’s a challenging hike (only about 150 people complete the trail each year), the Colorado Trail Foundation says many hikers finish in four to six weeks.

The hike ended up taking us 29 days, though two of those were zeros, as they’re called—rest days spent resupplying in town. That’s an average of 18 miles a day for the 27 days we hiked. Short days tended to be around 15 miles, which took us eight to ten hours, but we sometimes hiked as many as 25 miles in a day.

I was curious to know what hiking every day for a month would do to my body. Before we headed to Colorado, I weighed myself at home, monitored my pulse for several weeks with a Polar watch, had my doctor run blood tests, and completed a metabolic efficiency test to see how my body was utilizing fat and carbohydrates for fuel during exercise. When I got home from the hike, I ran the tests again. The differences in the results were pretty striking.

Basically, I had walked myself into a super-fit athlete’s body.

See the test results here…


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