At the intersection of adventure and accessibility, snowshoeing is one winter activity that nearly anyone can do — and one that allows you to explore the outdoors in a whole new way.
“You can strap on a pair of snowshoes and go anywhere there’s snow — golf courses, groomed trails, or your own trails,” says Derrick Spafford, a competitive snowshoe runner and coach in Ontario.
In recent years, lighter, sleeker, and less-expensive gear has made the sport more accessible to all, whether you’re a competitive athlete or someone just out for a winter hike. Snowshoes are more convenient and easier to use than cross-country skis, yet the benefits are on par with those of many other winter sports.
“Because you’re coming up against different snow and terrain, it’s a little more difficult than a walk on a flat road,” explains Spafford. “It’s a power-oriented workout that targets your core, glutes, hamstrings, and calves.”
The resistance from the snow, the added weight from your gear and winter clothes, and the cold temperatures all contribute to snowshoeing’s metabolic benefits.
“On snowshoes, your body has to work much harder compared with walking — even more if you go uphill or increase your pace,” says Jim Joque, a retired snowshoeing instructor at the University of Wisconsin–Stevens Point.
Spend just a little time on snowshoes and you’ll quickly learn how to use them. And training your lower body and building core strength can help you prepare for a variety of snow conditions and longer distances.
Try these expert-sourced tips and drills to improve your strength and endurance and to expand your snowshoeing skills and experience.