- A 150-pound adult can easily burn 450 calories in an hour of snowshoeing
- Snowshoeing is a cardiovascular, aerobic exercise
- If you are a runner, try running on snowshoes
The most popular New Year’s resolution is to lose weight. The biggest increase in gym memberships happens in January. Yet by the March 1, 90 percent of those with new memberships come less that once a week. If you snowshoe you have the potential to significantly improve your fitness level and burn more calories than running or skiing.
When you snowshoe, you can burn up to 45 percent more calories than walking or running at the same speed. Several factors contribute to this increase. First, exercising in cold weather increases your metabolic rate. Second, you are walking with added weight on your feet – providing the same effect as wearing ankle weights. And there is the added resistance of moving through snow.
The number of calories you burn while snowshoeing will depend upon four factors: the terrain, the condition of the snow (packed or powder), your pace (and whether or not you use poles), and your body size. For example, if you are small (around 120 pounds) and you walk on packed snow with flat terrain for an hour, you will burn about 360 calories. That’s quite a few, for just an hour of walking.
At the other end of the spectrum, if you are 180 pounds, and run on snowshoes on packed, flat snow for an hour, you can burn more than 1,000 calories.
Walking with poles in powder snow on hilly terrain can push that hour for the small person up to 670 calories, while the 180 pound person will again burn just more than 1,000 calories in that same scenario.
The American Hiking Society has provided the following chart that compares average calories burned depending on the type of snowshoeing you are doing:
Snowshoeing is an aerobic exercise that uses major muscle groups. The intensity of the activity over an extended period of time improves cardiovascular fitness. All this, and yet it’s a low-impact sport. Ray Browning, technical director of Tubbs Snowshoes says, “Snowshoeing is low impact due to the fact that snow is softer than asphalt or concrete and the construction of the snowshoe acts as a shock absorber for your feet, reducing the typical impact forces associated with running.”
Over the years I have essentially destroyed my knees by ski racing and reluctantly gave that activity up. Fortunately, I discovered snowshoeing and can get outside and enjoy the winter landscape without pain because the broad base of the snowshoes provides so much stability; it felt more secure than even walking. I may be looking at knee replacement at some point in the future, but for the time being, I am very pleased with my ability to snowshoe and not be a couch potato over the winter.
Dr. Paul Burns is a Chiropractor specializing in pain management and sports injuries. He has worked with many college and pro teams, including the Denver Broncos, the ATP and Wrangler Sports. His multidisciplinary practice is located in the Denver Tech Center and offers the latest in evidenced based practice methodology, techniques and technology.
For more information, visit www.DrPaulBurns.com and/or call 303-694-9759.