Staying fit and active during the winter can be a challenge, especially for avid outdoor enthusiasts. The cold weather can make some summertime activities like jogging, swimming, and cycling almost impossible. Fortunately, the cold weather also opens up options for winter-specific activities, including skiing, snowboarding, and snowshoeing. The health benefits that come with snowshoeing are starting to make it an increasingly popular winter sport, and can help you have a happier, healthier winter!
Burn Those Calories
Snowshoeing can burn up to 1,000 calories per hour.
Perhaps the most obvious reason to pursue snowshoeing as a new winter hobby is just how effective it is at burning calories. Walking on a flat trail for an hour will burn about 369 calories. Snowshoeing at a similar pace across flat, packed snow like you might find on a park trail will burn about 450 calories. For more seasoned snowshoers, these results increase dramatically as speed and difficulty of the terrain increases. A hilly trail with powdery snow (using poles) can actually help burn over 800 calories per hour. Whether you’re trying to keep up your endurance over the winter or just stay fit, adding snowshoeing to your exercise schedule is a great way to stay in shape when it’s cold outside.
Low Impact Muscle-Building
Snow acts as a cushion to spare your knees.
If you’re looking for a solid way to workout your quads, hamstrings, and calf muscles, then snowshoeing absolutely should be on your fitness schedule. When you add in the use of poles, you’re also going to work your arms, your back, and your shoulders. For those who have knee problems, keep in mind that the snow functions as a cushion that makes snowshoeing a low impact activity. It’s actually great not just for fitness enthusiasts, but for kids and the elderly as well.
Enjoy the Fresh Air
Outdoor smells can help reduce stress levels.
Getting outside in the winter is perhaps even more important than it is during the summer but often harder for people to actually put into practice. While running on a treadmill can be a great solution for staying fit or keeping up your endurance, you won’t be getting the fresh air that your body actually does need. More and more scientists are beginning to study the effects of actual fresh air, and these studies are finding a multitude of positive side effects. The smells found in fresh air, especially in the pine trees that add their crisp aroma to so many great snowshoeing trails, can help decrease stress levels and increase your ability to relax. If that’s not enough to convince you that fresh air is a great side-benefit to snowshoeing, consider all the things that you aren’t breathing while you’re outside: the germs and the indoor air pollutants.
Get Back to Nature
Staying connected to nature improves your sense of well-being.
People do actually respond better and feel better when they’re exposed to natural surroundings. Studies have shown that people who regularly spend time outdoors have lower stress levels and a generally better sense of overall well-being. Snowshoeing offers a great way for people to stay connected with the great outdoors even when those great outdoors aren’t quite as hospitable. Finding a trail to enjoy can help keep the winter doldrums at bay, helping you stay energized and focused during the winter months.
Snowshoeing and the City
Try a city park or fresh-fallen snow on the sidewalk.
Even if you don’t have access to large outdoor spaces, you can try heading down to a local park after a big snowstorm. To really maximize your time, see if you can find somewhere within walking distance and trek across the sidewalks before the neighbors or the city have the chance to shovel them. Snowshoeing doesn’t require miles of pristine wilderness (though it’s a great way to enjoy the outdoors). If there’s snow, then you can snowshoe.