Maybe you're an avid runner or biker but you live in a snowy region that makes these activities very difficult or impossible to do for several months out of the year. Or perhaps you're looking for a new outdoor activity that is both enjoyable and a great workout. If so, now is the time to try your hand – or foot, rather – at snowshoeing!
Why snowshoeing rocks
Snowshoeing actually started thousands of years ago among people who lived in and near the mountains as a way to get around more easily without sinking into the snow. Today, snowshoes aren't a necessity, but people enjoy using them for recreation. Here's why:
Snowshoeing is easy – if you can walk, you're good to go. It doesn't involve too much balance or complicated technique as do skiing or snowboarding, though there are some tips that could help you get the hang of it even more quickly.
It offers an awesome workout! Depending on the terrain and how quickly you move, you can burn between 400 and 1,000 calories in just one hour of snowshoeing. Here's a calculator to help you determine how many calories were burned during your workout.
It's low-impact. This wintry sport doesn't put too much stress on your knees, hips and other joints, but it still is a great form of cardio exercise.
It's a versatile sport. People of all ages and abilities can enjoy it, and you can traverse terrain that you wouldn't be able to on skis due to low-snow and closely spaced trees.
It extends your running or hiking season. Many runners turn to snowshoeing because it can maintain their high level of aerobic activity and build strength. The unstable, snowy surface plus "weights" on your feet – snowshoes – give you a heavy-duty workout.
Unlike beginning many other new sports, it's inexpensive. All you need is snowshoes, poles (if you want them) and, of course, the proper clothing, like water-proof, insulated boots, coats and thick socks, though it's likely if you're an avid outdoorsperson that you already have many of these items.
The snowshoes: There are three types of snowshoes, depending on the terrain you will be traveling:
Aerobic or running: These are good for families and beginners and are meant to be used on flat terrain.
Recreational: Recreational snowshoes are larger and a bit heavier. You can use them on moderate walks on rolling hills, or on terrain that is a bit rougher.
Mountaineering shoes: These are meant for very serious hill-climbing, long-distance travel on rough terrains, including for those who want to walk on steep, icy and backcountry areas.