Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Snowshoeing a Great Winter Activity:

The sport is easy to learn, virtually inexpensive (compared to other winter sports), poses little risk of injury and is a great way to exert energy during the cold winter months. According to research, 40.8 percent of snowshoers are women (a number that is increasing rapidly), 9.4 percent of snowshoers are children (ages 7-11), and 44.2 percent of snowshoers are ages 25-44.

One of the more appealing facts about snowshoeing is how it can help enrich a person's health. Known to help maintain or improve cardiovascular fitness, the sport helps burn more than 600 calories per hour. Snowshoers can burn more than 45 percent more calories than walking or running at the same speed. Snowshoeing is a great way to pursue losing weight; however, a healthy diet should be maintained to seek the appropriate effectiveness in a healthy lifestyle as well.

The good news is that anyone who can walk can go snowshoeing. From young kids to senior citizens, depending on your age and weight range there will be a shoe that will fit your specific needs.

There are a number of reasons to enjoy the benefits of snowshoeing: A fun, inexpensive and active way to visit the outdoors; simple to learn and easy to access places with snow; great cardiovascular exercise for adults and for kids; an entertaining social group activity and snowshoer’s getting up close and personal with nature.

Snowshoeing expands the potential for exercise available in the wintertime. As of 2006, at least 500American schools, mostly but not exclusively in the Northeast have started offering snowshoe programs in their physical education classes to help combat obesity. It has the added benefit of being gentler on the feet than walking or running the equivalent routes, since snow cushions the foot's impact.

Snowshoeing makes even familiar hikes different and new. If the snow is deep enough, obstacles such as large boulders and fallen logs can be more easily bypassed. Winter transforms familiar forests into something wonderful and strange, and clearer, bluer skies in winter often afford more sweeping, longer-range views from favorite lookouts than are available in summer situations. The stillness of the air, quiet and snow cover give nature a pristine feel that is sometimes lacking at other times of year.

It is wise to choose your footwear according to your snowshoeing style. Leather hiking boots that have been waterproofed, like Merrell Hiking boots, are great for hiking and backcountry trekking. Trail-running shoes, also by Merrell, are perfect for running and aerobic snowshoeing (look for GORE-TEX material). Snowboarding boots are also ideal for snowshoeing. Waterproofing is the key!

Wool socks, like those from Carhartt, for hiking and/or a wool/silk combination for running are important to snowshoeing. Never wear cotton socks when in the snowy elements.

And, if you plan to snowshoe in deep snow and don't plan to stay on snow-packed trails, wear Gaiters to keep snow out of your boots and shoes. GORE-TEX Gaiters are great selection for backcountry hikers.

Don't be afraid to dress in layers. And, use layers that can be taken off with ease, considering in some cases it can get hot during the spring season. Consider wearing synthetics and wool to induce heat retention when wet. Long underwear, like those from Carhartt, is essential when snowshoeing and a zippered top lets you regulate body heat.

Polyester fleece provides a great insulation, as it too retains heat when wet. And, a waterproof jacket (preferably something with GORE-TEX) will keep you dry and protect you from cold winds. The more obvious choices in winter wear are gloves, a hat, sunglasses (or goggles) and other personal selections.

With more than half of all snowshoers being women, who snowshoe for different reasons: for backcountry access, to experience nature, to exercise with friends and family and, above all, to have outdoor fun all winter long ......"

Written By: Mike Girolami, President of WorkWear1,, a Local Distributor of Carhartt Clothing, Redford MI

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