Snowshoeing for Fitness and Fun: Reasons an Old Winter Pastime is New Again

If you love having fun in the snow and enjoy the thrill of skiing or even if you haven’t picked up a pair of ski’s before, it is well worth looking at a pursuit from the past which is now considered very much in the present.

Snowshoeing has an historical past but rather than being an outdated pursuit it is an activity which is enjoying a real renaissance and many people are rediscovering this fun way to keep yourself fit.

Easy to learn

When you put on your Crescent Moon Snow Shoes or whatever brand you happen to have, you are already well on the way to being able to snowshoe.

What was once an ancient mode of transportation has evolved into a modern pursuit which is easy to take up and basically, if you can walk, you can snowshoe.

The learning process for snowshoeing is considerably shorter compared to skiing or snowboarding and once you have learnt a few basic techniques such as widening your normal stance to avoid stepping on your snowshoe frames and how to use the pole effectively, you are pretty much good to go and ready to have some serious fun.

Picking your snowshoes

If you are interested in taking up this pursuit, you will probably want to decide what type of snowshoe you need, which is often determined by where you intend to do your snowshoeing.

In general terms, many snowshoes are actually quite versatile and will cope with most situations and terrain that you are you are likely to encounter, but manufacturers do tend to divide their snowshoe styles up into three distinct categories, to allow you to get the best performance levels.

An entry-level snowshoe will be designed for flat terrain and makes walking on flat or rolling snow-covered surfaces easy to accomplish. If you are new to the sport or buying for the family, an entry-level flat terrain snowshoe would be a good choice.

If you are intending on broadening your horizons a bit and plan to try some hiking that is a bit off the beaten track, you should look for a snowshoe which is specifically designed for a rolling terrain.

These snowshoes should be able to cope with hiking on rolling to steep hills but wouldn’t be the best choice for tackling very steep or icy conditions.

Accomplished snowshoeing enthusiasts will probably be wearing a pair of snowshoes which are designed for mountain terrain and will cope icy and steep terrains more competently than other more basic designs.

What to wear

Buying the snowshoes suitable to your ability and planned routes is the main part of getting the most out of the pursuit, but you will also need to make sure you are suitably attired for the prevailing conditions.

The best advice is to always wear a decent pair of insulated and waterproof boots and ask your supplier to match your chosen snowshoeing style with a boot that fits those requirements, such as whether you intend to climb, run or hike.

Choose your clothing so that it is layered and can be adjusted to your activity level and the weather conditions you are facing.

You should aim to have three layers of clothing. A base layer, insulating layer and then an outer layer. The base layer should keep out the wet and wick away moisture whereas the insulating layer should provide warmth, whilst the outer layer needs to be waterproof.

Fun and fitness

The real attracting of snowshoeing and the reason why it is enjoying such a surge in popularity, is the fact that you can have some real fun in the snow and get fit at the same time.

Snowshoeing is considered to be an effective, safe and relatively low impact form of exercise which allows you the opportunity to burn as much as double the amount of calories, compared to walking at the same speed.

The great thing about snowshoeing is that you can easily vary the intensity of your workout, choosing to burn fewer calories by tackling easier terrain or going all out with a more intensive activity like snowshoeing in powder on hilly terrain, which can burn through up to 1,000 calories per hour.

If you are looking for a great winter fitness activity that will keep you in shape ready for your summer pursuits like cycling or running for example, snowshoeing ticks a lot of boxes.

This old winter pastime is very much a modern trend and when you try it, you can instantly see the appeal.

Beverley Olsen works as a fitness instructor. Her passion for winter sports was fueled by an active childhood and she has been a regular skier and snowshoe enthusiast ever since. She is a regular contributor on a number of niche websites.