Snowshoeing: Workout in a Winter Wonderland

imageWhether you opt for a walk in the woods, a run on packed trails, or a hike through fresh powder, snowshoeing is a great way to enjoy the snow this winter. Head for a hiking trail, golf course, snowshoe trail at a ski resort, or anywhere with at least 6 inches of snow—and go!

What Snowshoeing Can Do for You

Snowshoeing is not a sport where learning is difficult, or the expense is great. You can make it as easy or as hard as you want it to be. The most important thing is learning to do it right to get the most out of it. Here are some reasons you may want to start snowshoeing:

  • It gets you outside—If you have seasonal affective disorder, exercise will boost your mood and help eliminate stress.
  • Once the snow falls, winter can be a magical place—Share it with your family and start enjoying winter.
  • It's great for your heart and lungs—Showshoeing provides an low-impact, intense cardiovascular (aerobic) workout.
  • Pump up the muscles in your legs.
  • Because of the deep snow, you will burn more calories walking in snowshoes.
  • Boost your immunity—Ward off the flu and winter colds. Exercise helps give your immunity a better fighting chance.
  • Burn those winter holiday calories.

Now that you know what snowshoeing can do for you, let's get you started on what you need.

Essential Gear

Snowshoeing does not have to cost you a lot of money. There are certain things however, that you will need to enjoy your new sport.


  • Waterproof boots. Find boots lined with Gore-Tex to keep your feet warm and dry.
  • Snowshoes with bindings that fit properly. Most modern snowshoes are made of light weight aluminum, which helps you better manage your steps on the snow.
  • Cross-country ski poles help you maintain balance and keep you moving, especially in places where you may need some extra help.

Winter Gear

  • Layering clothes against the cold is crucial. Windproof materials help keep the cold out. Look for waterproof clothes as well.
  • Avoid cotton or cotton blends because they absorb moisture. Look for moisture-wicking material that keeps sweat off your body.
  • Gloves, sunglasses to protect your eyes, hiking socks, knee-high gaiters (keep the snow out of your boots), and a hat will help ward off the cold.
  • Layer and dress according to the weather so you are comfortable and able to move freely.
  • Pack an extra pair of socks, a hat, a pair of gloves, or even a facemask in case the weather gets colder or the items become wet and need to be replaced with dry ones.
  • Carry some things that cannot get wet in a zip bag to keep them dry.
  • Use lip balm and sunscreen to protect your exposed skin.

Before you head out the door, make sure you know how to do things the right way. Nothing can ruin a day in the snow like an injury or being miserably cold.

Avoiding Injury

Being prepared is always a good policy. Here are some tips to keep you safe while you enjoy the great outdoors:

  • Check the weather. Be aware that as beautiful as winter can be, storms can pop up quickly.
  • Know where you're going. Map it out ahead of time.
  • Let someone know where you are going and when you plan to be back. If you can, snowshoe with a friend or two.
  • Use your gym time to get yourself ready for snowshoeing. Build up your muscles and endurance in advance.
  • Know your limits. Start out slowly and take the time to build yourself up.

Make sure your cell phone is in a waterproof case. You may not get a signal everywhere you snowshoe, but it is a good idea to have it with you.

Most of all have fun! Snowshoeing is a great, easy way to get exercise and have fun during the winter months.


American Council on Exercise

The President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports


Canadian Society of Exercise Physiology

Public Health Agency of Canada


Cold weather sports. Kid's Health—Nemours Foundation website. Available at: Updated January 2014. Accessed July 20, 2016.

Staying fit during the winter months. American College of Sports Medicine website. Available at: Published Winter 2011. Accessed June 20, 2016.

Winter hiking and backpacking. Backpacking website. Available at: Accessed July 20, 2016.

Last reviewed July 2016 by Michael Woods, MD  Last Updated: 10/22/2014