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Snowshoeing: A Great Outdoor Winter Activity

By December 29, 2010 One Comment

Post by Katie C., blog contributor

In a recent post, I mentioned that one of my favorite winter activities is snowshoeing.  Several people expressed an interest in snowshoeing and had some great questions, so here is a more detailed post on this great winter activity that is fun for anyone at any fitness level.

Benefits:  Snowshoeing as a fun way to get outdoors during the winter and get a great total body workout.  As an aerobic exercise, snowshoeing strengthens your heart muscle and increases endurance.  Snowshoeing also works your hip flexors, quads, and calves.  I promise you; even after thirty minutes of snowshoeing you WILL feel this in your legs!  Another benefit of snowshoeing is its high caloric expenditure.  Snowshoeing for one hour at just a moderate speed will burn 400-500 calories.    

Choosing the correct snowshoes:  If you’re going to purchase snowshoes, I highly recommend doing research before or going to a sports store to get advice from an expert.  There are many different types of snowshoes available and each will perform a little differently.   Some things to consider: type of activity (recreational snowshoeing on flat ground vs. backcountry snowshoeing up steep terrain), your weight (including the weight of your backpack if you plan on going on longer excursions), and bindings (you want to make sure that your boot fits well inside the snowshoe and that it’s very easy to tighten and loosen the bindings as needed).  Renting snowshoes is also a great option.  Several REI stores offer snowshoe rentals.

What to wear:  Because snowshoeing is an aerobic activity, you will find yourself getting warm fairly quickly.  It’s best to dress in layers so that you can take them off as needed.  When I snowshoe, I’m often in the woods, so wearing a jacket can be too warm.  Other than that, the gear is simple:  hat, gloves, scarf, and a good comfortable pair of boots (with a few layers of socks underneath).

Where to go:  You can snowshoe anywhere you can walk.  I usually snowshoe in the woods, but I’ve also gone across Lake Suprerior or just in the backyard.  As long as there are four or more inches of snow, the conditions are great for snowshoeing.  Check out hiking trails or parks to get started.  Many cities also have snowshoe events during the winter.  Here are some in Wisconsin.

How to walk:  Now that you have all the gear and know where to go, it’s time to start walking!  I tried to record our family snowshoeing outing over Christmas, but unfortunately I had difficulties with my camera (too bad, because snowshoeing with my family often provides some good entertainment 🙂 ).  Here is a video I found online that demonstrates how to properly walk with snowshoes. 

[youtube bIylS8VFGcg] 

It’s as easy as that!  Good luck snowshoeing and let me know how it goes!