Snowshoeing: A winter cross training option that’s fun, social and active

Posted on Jan 18, 2021, by

Snowshoeing is a fantastic form of winter recreation and social activity. All ages and abilities can benefit from this type of low-impact exercise … and it gets folks outside to enjoy the fresh crisp air and explore the beauty and serenity of the winter.

Snowshoes allow you to hike on top of the snow by distributing your weight over the equipment, so you do not sink through the snow. For runners looking for cross-training opportunities as the seasons change, your knees, ankles and hips will appreciate the low-impact nature of snowshoeing!  Unlike the hard ground or pavement, the snow offers a cushion for your joints when walking or running in snowshoes.

Avid hikers and runners often transition to snowshoes so they can continue the activities they love throughout the winter.

Snowshoes come in a variety of shapes, styles and designs depending on the activity. Unlike traditional snowshoes that were crafted with wood frames and a woven lattice, modern snowshoes are constructed from lightweight materials … aluminum tubing, nylon straps, plastic buckles and bindings and cleats to allow for durability, ease of motion and use and traction.

Like running, snowshoeing engages your lower body – quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes and calves.  Many snowshoers also use poles with wrist straps to help with balance and stability as they hike across the snow, this also helps activate the upper body contributing to a full body workout.

Snowshoeing is an excellent cardiovascular exercise…burning up to 1000 calories per hour and improving the health of your heart and lungs! You can vary your intensity by walking or running at a faster pace or interval training, hike for longer distances or in deeper snow, or choose a trail that has hills to climb.

Snowshoeing can be as simple as a leisurely walk in your backyard, a visit to your local golf course or a winter hike through city, state, or national parks on their amazing trails.

Or if you are craving competition, there is a competitive side of this sport! Winter adventure events combine snowshoeing with different types of winter sports like cross-country skiing and fat tire biking.

Whatever your goal for snowshoeing, you have plenty of options here in Northeast Wisconsin. In the Fox Valley, there are guided hikes and snowshoeing instruction through several organizations. Snowshoeing for Kids (ages 5-10) is available on February 13 from 1:00-2:30 PM at the Apple Creek YMCA.  The Apple Creek YMCA Bruce B. Purdy Nature Preserve has beautiful hiking trails available to snowshoers throughout the winter.  If you do not have snowshoes and are eager to try the sport, do not worry, you can rent them from the Fox West or Apple Creek YMCA to use on their trails.

About the author: Jill Rasmussen has worked for YMCAs since 1986 starting as a college intern at the Stevens Point YMCA.  She has held a variety of positions including Fitness Director at the Jackson Family YMCA in Tennessee, Health & Fitness Director of the Neenah-Menasha YMCA and has been the Executive Director of the new and unique Apple Creek YMCA – an environmental education-focused YMCA since March 2009. 

Jill is certified as a National Faculty Trainer of Pre and Post Natal Exercise, Exercise Specialist, Group Exercise Trainer, Strength Trainer, Personal Trainer, Pilates Instructor, Indoor Cycling Instructor, Stress Management Instructor, Tai Chi Easy Facilitator and Moving for Better Balance Instructor Trainer.

Jill enjoys biking, fishing, crafts and gardening.  Jill and her husband Brian live in Appleton – they have four adult children Hilary, Hannah, Noah and Ian and 4 grandchildren, Evelyn, Isla, Tripp and Henry.

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