|By Jill Armayor
If you live in an area where it snows, you probably understand the dilemma that faces most fair-weather exercise enthusiasts, as autumn ends and winter begins. The winter cold tends to push us into our shells, as we are naturally drawn to the warmth of the indoors, rarely venturing out into the freezing temps for a workout. Some find it hard to exercise at all, as the winter doldrums set in and the hours of day light grow short. If you are not particularly into the extreme winter sports like downhill skiing, snowboarding and snowmobiling, try some snowshoeing this year. Snowshoeing is a fantastic way to prep your physique for the summer months and burns a whopping 250-300 calories for 30 minutes of work. If you are cutting your own trail through fresh powder, you are liable to burn even more.
Snowshoes are sold at any sporting goods store, and range in price from about $60 to $200 per pair. If you are just starting out, you will probably want to explore flat terrain before taking your newfound hobby to the mountainous trails. One of the less expensive models is just fine for inner city treks. You can also go onto sites like Ebay and Craig’s List to find a used pair in good condition for a lot less money. If you are unsure if you want to make snowshoeing a regular part of your winter fun, many sporting goods stores rent snowshoes for a nominal fee.
The ideal size of your snow shoe will vary, depending upon your weight and the snow conditions that you plan on conquering. Snowshoes come in men’s and women’s sizes. Men’s snowshoes are designed to accommodate a heavier bodyweight and a larger boot. Women’s snowshoes tend to be more narrow, to suit a woman’s narrower gait, smaller body frame and smaller boot size. Children’s snowshoes are chosen based upon age. The, the larger your snow shoes become, the more weight you will be able to carry and stay afloat on the snow; however, you will sacrifice some maneuverability. With deeper powder, a longer snowshoe will help keep you from sinking.
When dressing to go snowshoeing, follow the regular guidelines used for exercising in the cold. Wear a bottom layer that stays tight to the skin, whisking away any moisture from your body. The second layer should insulate you, keeping your body heat from escaping into the winter air. The third layer should be wind-resistant, keeping the cold from getting in. Your boots should be comfortable, waterproof and tall enough that water or snow does not soak your socks from the top. Be sure to wear warm gloves, a hat that completely covers your ears, sunglasses or goggles, and some sort of a face covering. You can always strip away layers if you feel like you are getting too hot. Bring a backpack with the essentials, like your cell phone, a map of the trail, some snacks, plenty of water, chemical hand and feet warmers and sunscreen. Always snowshoe with at least one other person to mitigate unfortunate mishaps. Before heading out to the trail, check the weather report to make sure that you won’t get caught off guard by an incoming storm.
Find great snowshoeing trails in your area at: www.Trails.com and www.TrailLink.com