Benefits of Snowshoeing

Over the last few years, there has been tremendous growth in snowshoeing, with participation up 43% from 2006 to 2009, according to the latest SIA Intelligence Report. This growth reflects a shift toward affordable, healthy recreational activity.

Did You Know…

  • 46% of snowshoers are women
  • 12% of snowshoers are children aged 7-17
  • 55% of snowshoers are under the age of 45
  • 1.4 million people identify themselves as snowshoers, a 60% increase in the last decade

Snowshoes have been in use for 6000 years and were one of the earliest forms of transportation.  Anyone can snowshoe—It is as simple as walking. Snowshoes are easy to put on and take off, just like putting on another pair of shoes. Snowshoeing requires modest physical effort with no fancy techniques or theories to learn. A beginner’s learning curve is immediate.

Snowshoes are highly maneuverable so, outdoor enthusiasts can go where cross country skiers and snowmobiles cannot. Snowshoeing offers participants the peaceful, quiet serenity of a snow-covered landscape –a great activity for the body and soul.

The benefits of snowshoeing include exercise, fitness and social/adventure aspects.


Want to know how many calories are burned when walking and hiking? Let’s just say that both are fantastic ways to spend an hour or more of your time. You can enjoy the fresh air, nature, beautiful vistas, and burn more calories than in most other activities!

Assuming 1 hour of activity, and a person that weighs 150 pounds, there are a lot of calories to be burned with some of our favorite outdoor activities.

  • Backpacking: 476 calories burned per hour!
  • Hiking: 408 calories burned per hour!
  • Walking: 170 calories burned walking on a flat surface at 2 miles per hour (a pretty slow pace!)
  • Snowshoeing: You burn 500+ calories during 60 minutes of snowshoeing!

When you snowshoe, you can burn up to 45% 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 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, say 120 pounds, and you walk on packed snow and 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 over 1000 calories!

Fitness Benefits

  • Snowshoeing is a cross-training conditioning sport, offering a low-impact, safe form of exercise. It is ideal for anyone interested in an aerobic workout combined with strength training and muscle endurance.
  • Snowshoeing is a great aerobic exercise that will improve or maintain cardiovascular fitness as well as burn calories.
  • Snowshoeing uses every major muscle group at relatively high intensity for extended periods of time, thus requiring high caloric expenditure.
  • Research has shown that individuals who substitute snowshoeing for running during the winter actually improve their running fitness over those who chose to run as their primary source of winter training.
  • The physical demands of snowshoeing can build up endurance levels and strengthen quadriceps for runners.
  • Muscles used are similar to those used in walking and hiking hilly terrain. Hip flexors may receive more of a workout and quads may get more exercise than usual in walking due to the lifting motion of each step.
  • Climbing in snowshoes works the hip flexors and extensors, crucial muscles for cyclists.
  • The use of poles while snowshoeing gets the upper body moving and helps condition arms, shoulders and back muscles.

Social/Adventure Benefits

  • Snowshoeing can accommodate a variety of activities—a casual hike in the woods, an overnight backpacking trip or an alpine climb.
  • Snowshoeing is a very inexpensive way to spend time with the entire family.
  • With a nearly immediate learning curve, snowshoeing provides hours of fun for adults and children of all ages.
  • Simplicity is perhaps one of the biggest draws to this sport. Snowshoes can be used in various types of snow conditions so, no matter what the weather, everyone can enjoy the great outdoors.

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