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Big Shoes, Small Footprints
Big Shoes, Small Footprints
Snowshoeing lets you burn calories
Some historians trace the origins of snowshoes back 13,000 years, when our ancestors used broad, flat boards to help them cross the great land bridge from Asia to North America. The quest for easy transport while hunting and gathering through rough winters created the forerunner to one of the hottest new calorie-burning winter sports for nature lovers.
“There aren’t too many other environments likely to be as beautiful, serene and tranquil as the woods in winter under snow cover,” says Declan Connolly, PhD, program director of physical education at the University of Vermont, who adds that the sport is similar to jogging in terms of calories burned. “Snowshoes offer you the opportunity to blaze your own trail. ”
Modern snowshoes bear little resemblance to their wood-and-rawhide forbears. “One of the appeals is that there is a very small learning curve. In fact, if you can put them on, you’ve gone from beginner to advanced or intermediate snowshoer,” says Ray Browning, PhD, assistant professor at Colorado State University. “There’s really little skill involved and it opens up a lot of terrain that many people, unfortunately, think of as off-limits in the winter time. It’s a nice, easy, out-your-door activity that most people who have close proximity to snow can do.”
Trekkers can touch base with the environment and enjoy the peaceful serenity of the white-blanketed woods—concentrating on spotting wildlife instead of attending to equipment woes—thanks to innovations in the sport. Lightweight aluminum frames and woven decking (think of the neoprene-like material used in wetsuits) ease muscle strain. Gender- specific frame shapes allow for a more natural stride for men, women and children. Shock-absorbing bindings make snowshoes as simple to don as stepping onto the decking in everyday winter boots and tightening a single strap.
Exercise, Watch Wildlife
Enthusiasts range from people looking for some exercise by walking at a comfortable pace to those who use snowshoes specially designed for running. Racing or running shoes are shorter and narrower, with tapered tails. They are lighter weight and, to keep the shoe from loosening during quick strides, have a more secure binding than regular recreational snowshoes. People who run with snowshoes “are serious about getting a significant cardiovascular exercise session,” says Browning.
Connolly says adding a set of poles to the outing will give you “a great full body workout” in which you’ll burn anywhere from 500 to 1,000 calories per hour.
The recent addition of Nordic poles to the sport has not only helped snowshoe buffs burn more calories but has made ...