Using Your Snowshoes on the Sand for Fitness: There is No Off-Season

To stay in incredible physical form during the snowshoeing off-season, you need to have a general training plan that involves endurance training and other forms of exercise. This plan helps your muscles remember how to work when it is time for the snow. One activity you’ll want to add to your training plan is sandshoeing. Here we answer your questions about using your snowshoes on the sand or sandshoeing for fitness.

snowshoes on sand for fitness: man on beach wearing snowshoes and using poles

Sandshoeing is a great way to keep up your fitness during the off-season. Photo: Randy Philpotts

What is sandshoeing?

First, what is sandshoeing? Sandshoeing is an outdoor sport practiced during your leisure time, whether that’s for recreation, fitness, or cross-training. It’s as simple as it sounds. Grab your snowshoes and head to your nearest beach or dunes. Then, choose the intensity at which you walk or run. Sandshoeing can be a solo activity or a way to connect with others of all ages.

If you want to add an extra challenge and extra stability, you can use Nordic walking poles for sandshoeing. Nordic walking can improve fitness, especially for those unable to complete resistance training or high-impact sports. Nordic walking poles can also improve balance and reduce neck pain.

These poles can be height adjustable, are designed to propel you forwards more quickly, and use all the muscle groups. Unlike hiking, you don’t need to hold the poles vertically in front of the body but can orient them backward, like in cross-country skiing.

view of sand dunes under open blue sky and wisps of clouds

Sandshoeing is simple: grab your snowshoes, head to the beach or dunes, and enjoy the view while getting a workout. Photo: Randy Philpotts

side by side photos of woman using snowshoes on sand dunes

C. King is enjoying traversing the dunes while sandshoeing. Photo: Randy Philpotts

Is sandshoeing cardio / aerobic exercise?

Cardio and aerobic exercise increase your heart rate and use oxygen. In sandshoeing, just like snowshoeing, you work your muscles and push your heart and lungs to work hard. On a long-term basis, this activity makes your heart stronger and more efficient.

So, good news: Sandshoeing is a good cardio exercise — especially if you go at a brisk pace of at least 3 miles per hour and get your heart rate up. Furthermore, if you can walk for at least 30 minutes every day, you can further your cardiovascular fitness, strengthen your bones, and reduce the risk of developing certain conditions and diseases.

Read More: Reap the Health Benefits of Snowshoeing

How fast can you sandshoe?

Speed depends on intensity, but in my case, around 4 mph or about 24 minutes a mile.

My personal results clearly show that you can increase – and maintain – your walking speed well beyond a brisk walking pace. Furthermore, if you can maintain this brisk pace throughout your workout, this is great news for your heart and the rest of your body.

group of sandshoers on the beach

You can enjoy this cardiovascular activity alone or with others! Train for a 5k or go just for fun. Photo: Randy Philpotts

What’s a good time to walk 5km?

Five kilometers equals 3.1 miles and is a great way to use your snowshoes on the sand for increased fitness. At a typical walking pace, you can walk a 5k in 45 minutes. If you have a slower pace, you might take 60 minutes or more.

When choosing a 5K event, make sure it welcomes sandshoers a long enough time limit so you can comfortably finish, like Snowshoe Magazine’s upcoming Sandshoeing 5K Challenge from July 1st – 7th!

Read More: Sandshoeing for the WWF Nature 5K

man on boardwalk looking at beach

Ready to sandshoe the next 5k on the beach! Photo: Randy Philpotts

Do I have to modify my snowshoes?

If you are using aluminum models, you can simply remove your toe crampons. I use Redfeather Hike snowshoes, and this modification allowed a much more efficient stride with less sand resistance.

The lack of extra weight also and less backsplash from the sand are also a plus. You will feel as if you are floating across the sand, with great buoyancy, aka float on top of the sand.

Since the sand and saltwater can cause wear and tear on your snowshoes, even with modification, just make sure to clean your snowshoes after every outing to help preserve them.

Read More: Snowshoeing San Diego, CA: Will Snowshoes Work on Sand?

snowshoes on sand for fitness: man wearing snowshoes on sand lifting up snowshoe

By removing the toe crampon on your aluminum snowshoes, it can save on weight and wear. Photo: Randy Philpotts

What do I need to do to prepare?

Make sure to stretch before, after a brief warm-up, and after to keep your muscles loose.

Also, make sure to stay hydrated no matter the temperature, and bring along a beverage like water or Gatorade. You can also bring a small backpack for extras like energy bars and layers since it gets breezy by the shore.

Finally, carry binoculars and a camera to take in all that nature has to offer.

Read More: What to Bring When Snowshoeing: Top Accessories for the Day Hiker

close up of three snowshoes on sand in a circle

You can use any type of modern snowshoes on the sand. Just make sure to wipe/wash them off after your outing. Photo: Randy Philpotts

How much fun can you have with sandshoeing?

The fun is as unlimited as one’s imagination!

It all begins before the sunrises… the moment I step outside my car. The air is crisp, the sun is just cresting the dunes, and waves on the ocean have a rhythmic syncopation all their own. The first 20 minutes are spent hiking up and through the dunes to get the heart pumping. Then it’s on to deep sand just off the dunes and ultimately out and across the flats to the shore. Here we meet the rush of the waves but not too close. I see the early surf casters fishing, birds flying overhead, and endless miles of sandy beach.

sunrise on the beach

You can enjoy the beautiful view and sunrise on the beach. Photo: Randy Philpotts

Would you use your snowshoes on the sand for fitness during the off-season? Please share your thoughts with us in the comments below.

Read Next:
The Sandshoeing Days of Summer
Try Your Snowshoes on Sand and Go Sandshoeing

About the author

Randy Philpotts

Randy Philpotts began alpine skiing at the age of 3, served as a ski instructor, competed in cross-country skiing at the national and international level, and won multiple titles. He was the first youth NBS Alpine Champion in 1974 at Sun Valley, ID, and won the National Brotherhood of Skiers First National XC Classic Race in 1988 in Steamboat, CO.

Randy is also a Rutgers University graduate in Visual Communications and a Marketing major, class of '83. He worked in New York Madison Ave. 1983-85 as Associate Art and in '85 moved to Englewood New Jersey as an Art Director in the Cr8Tv Dept. until 1989.

He implemented the Nordic Walk program "Lead by example," which includes videos inspiring individuals to get up outside no matter their age or gender. Randy transitioned to hybrid Crossblades to maintain the same motion and is presently creating partnerships within the snowshoe community, including Snowshoe Mag.

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1 Comment

  • I’ve never felt better in my Life!
    I was born in a snow storm Dec 1960, in NY & YES I Love snow!!! Fast forward 2021 Snowshoeing on sand aka: I’m now considered a pioneer for “Sandshoeing” as one of the most passionate on the planet and still exceeding expectations at 60.

    Why do I do it…because I love to challenge myself. Because this is like virgin snow…Sandshoeing making tracks, and seeing the look on peoples faces whether I’m Nordic Walking on the Boardwalk with my redfeather adjustable poles walking 5k or Kicking sand with my redfeather “modified” snowshoes….for miles and miles.

    Answering the World Wildlife Fund, 5k challenge June 1-7 goal 5k/day for 7 consecutive days total 35k
    MY Sandshoeing distances totaled 50km …30 miles..Honestly WOW !!!
    I have the Strava maps for proof!! for every day.

    It’s time to get ready for the Snowshoe Magazine 5k Sandshoe Challenge July 1-7. “SEA” you on the Sand.