Most people associate winter sports with skiing, snowboarding, or sledding. Perhaps tubing comes to mind. However, in recent years, the age-old skill of snowshoeing has become a more popular activity than ever.
Over 3.7 million Americans went snowshoeing at least once in 2017, the most recent year we could locate, and the number has been climbing annually for at least a decade.
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So, what is it about this sport that makes it so popular? Is it time to start snowshoeing?
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Snowshoeing means different things to different people. Depending on your preferences, it might be an intense physical exercise or a more casual, but still active, hike. Here are 5 reasons why you should start snowshoeing this winter, from burning calories to enjoying the views and sounds.
It's an Excellent Workout
Winter can be a frustrating time of year if you're used to jogging or trail running on a daily basis. A treadmill will burn some calories, but it will keep you indoors, staring at a screen and breathing stale, recycled air.
Even if there's a foot of snow on the ground, you can keep up with your outdoor regimen with a pair of snowshoes.
Snowshoeing may burn anywhere from 240 to 300 calories each hour, depending on your body weight and how hard you're hoofing it, which is more than a usual jog.
Not only that, but you get to enjoy your favorite routes, breathe fresh air, and marvel at nature's grandeur when everyone else is huddling within.
It's Less Dangerous and Easier Than Skiing
One disadvantage of skiing is that even a very easy slope can result in serious damage. Olympic athletes have been known to twist a knee or an ankle during a warmup run, and steep, difficult slopes have claimed the lives of numerous skiers. The same may be said for snowboarding.
Another disadvantage of skiing and snowboarding is that both activities require a significant amount of practice.
If you've never been skiing before, you'll need to take lessons, which may include a few weekends of following an instructor down the bunny hill while your buddies ski the more experienced slopes.
Not only that but much of your time "skiing" at a ski resort entails standing in line or sitting on a lift with other skiers.
It is simple and does not require any lessons to begin snowshoeing. It takes about five to ten minutes to get used to walking in these, and that's it!
Just make sure to approach hills from the side so you don't step all over your own snowshoes.
It's Good for the Environment
Hiking is one of the most environmentally beneficial hobbies you can undertake if done properly and with suitable "leave no trace" principles.
Not only are you experiencing nature in its purest form, but many parks' admission fees actually benefit conservation initiatives.
Hiking, on the other hand, might have a harmful impact on the environment if you wander off-trail. Off-trail hikers' actions might eliminate local undergrowth and develop new pathways over time.
During the winter, however, this vegetation remains dormant and protected by a blanket of snow.
Winter is an excellent time to venture off the beaten path and discover portions of the woods you've never seen before. A pair of snowshoes provides for a far more comfortable walk.
It is Affordable
Many winter sports are prohibitively expensive. A weekend of skiing can cost a small amount if you have to rent a set of skis or a snowboard unless you have access to your own private mountain, in which case money is probably not an issue.
Even if you have your own equipment, a lift ticket at some high-priced resorts can easily cost $50, $100, or even more. If you go more than a few times a year, it becomes an expensive hobby.
Meanwhile, snowshoeing is essentially free once you get started. Many parks do not charge a fee for snowshoeing, and those that do usually simply ask for $5 or $10 to pay trail maintenance costs.
You may easily go snowshoeing once a week without having to worry about the cost.
It's Really Fun
All of the above are compelling reasons to begin snowshoeing this winter. But there's another reason that's equally important. It's enjoyable! It's a terrific way to get some fresh air and enjoy the beauty of the natural world while it's still cold and lifeless.
Furthermore, if you have a dog, he or she will love the opportunity to explore new territory. This may be a lot of fun for both of you and is a terrific way to get rid of the winter blues.