Grouse-on-the-North-shore-2011-016-Optimized-Optimized.jpgIt’s the start of a new year, and that usually means it’s time for New Year’s resolutions. Like many people, mine usually involves a boost to my work out regime.

To get myself and you readers thinking about some great ways to change up the same old workout regime, I’ll be talking about some great fitness tips over the next 4 weeks. I’ll also fill you in on my favourite forms of exercise, how to stay safe while exercising and would love to hear any thoughts or input from readers.

Over the years I have fluctuated in my fitness routine, because I tend to get bored sticking with the same old exercises or gym routine. Variety is also a great way to target different body parts.

Growing up I was one of 3 girls for a period of time, at least until my younger brothers joined us, and my Dad took us camping and fishing. I also grew up in the generation where it didn’t matter what the weather was, you needed to get your butt outside at some point of the day … every day! I think this is really where my love of the outdoors started, and that has continued on into my adulthood. While I do enjoy going to the gym for some of my workouts and yoga classes, I would much rather find something fun to do outside.

Since it’s January and we’re in the thick of cold weather, it can be a little tricky finding outdoor activities. I do enjoy running, but  I am not one of those people who enjoy running in the freezing cold—my lungs just scream at me and I don’t enjoy it. So my outdoor runs aren’t as frequent as I would like during the really cold spells. I guess you could say I am a fair weather runner.

If you live in the lower mainland of British Columbia like me, you already know that we have some amazing local mountains. This year, the mountains have been blessed with some great snow too. And yes the skiing is awesome, but I prefer snowshoeing.  Snowshoeing is a fantastic way to get outdoors, spend time with friends and family and get an amazing workout. The bonus here is that it is that you can enjoy the great snow at a very low cost (especially compared to skiing).  Snowshoes are quite affordable and can last for years. I bet there are great places to snowshoe all across Canada. Near my house there are some great trails at Grouse Mountain, Mount Seymour and Cypress Mountain, and all three of them are super affordable at no more than $10 per adult. 

 

Benefits and staying safe

Snowshoeing is a fantastic workout because it’s a full cardio workout which is great for the heart and lungs, but will also help you build up your strength, endurance, and agility. Don’t dress too warmly either, because you will be sweating before too long. The fresh cool air is way better for the lungs than that stuffy gym air and pollution from running on busy roads.

In terms of the physicality of snowshoeing, I like to compare it to walking or running in sand. Depending on your fitness level, an intense snowshoe trail walk can burn up to 1000 calories an hour. With snowshoeing your steps are more dramatic: you having to bring your knees much higher when you step and doing this engages many more muscles. The weather also plays a role in burning calories because your body has to work a little harder to keep you warm.

snowshoes.jpgSnowshoeing with just the shoes is a great toner for the quads, hamstrings, calf muscles and the glutes (you hear me ladies). You can step up your workout to include your arms, shoulders and back by adding in some poles. These will also come in handy with your balance.

Unlike running which can be a little harder on those knee joints, snowshoeing is a low impact exercise, so it really is a great exercise for everyone. Once you head up to the mountains, you can also choose the trail that best suits your fitness level. Find a trail with a lot of hills or climbs if you’re very fit or just a flat trail for those looking for less intensity. My theory is, as long as you are doing something it counts, so either way you are winning.

Like any form of exercise you have to take into consideration safety too. I am a huge advocate for doing any form of outdoor fitness with a partner. Because you will more than likely be travelling to a local mountain for snowshoeing, be sure to not only take along a friend or family member, but also let another person who’s not going with you know where you are going, a timeline of your excursion and a number where they can reach you at. The cold can be dangerous too, so make sure you also have appropriate clothing for the weather and temperature. It’s always better to have too many layers that you can remove instead of not enough.

I remember going on a snowshoeing field trip when i was in elementary school and absolutely loving it. At the time it seemed like snowshoeing was one of those rare excursions, but now as an adult it seems like everyone I talk to owns a pair. They are actually really affordable and their design has come a long way over the years. These Rockwater Designs Trail Paws Snowshoes have an easy to use design and are lightweight being made out of durable aluminum.

Track your trails

fitbit.jpg

Fitness trackers have really taken off this past year, and as someone who likes to see a physical record of my fitness goals and accomplishments I think they are a great idea.

With snowshoeing, you could use a basic step counter, but the reality is you’ll be getting a much better workout than just walking on everyday terrain.

A fitness tracker like this Fitbit Charge HR Fitness Tracker with Heart Rate Monitor would be a much better option. You can count your steps and much more. With Fitbit you can also check your heart rate, monitor your sleep patterns, keep a record of your workouts, keep track of your diet and so much more.

Since Fitbit can count your steps taken as well as stairs climbed, I’m curious to see what the count would be while snowshoeing. Since you raise your knees high when you are snowshoeing, it’s almost like stepping up a step each time. I think I’ll have to test that out next time I go.

Why I love snowshoeing

As someone who would much rather play outside than use cardio equipment at the gym, snowshoeing appeals to me in all ways. It’s funny because I hate being cold, but because you are constantly moving and expending a lot of energy with snowshoeing, I stay nice and toasty. I think another reason I love it is because it’s a way for the whole family to spend time together. My boys love the snow, so I think that helps in getting them to participate.

We also pack the sleds with us so when we are done our trail they can get some sledding in too. Then, as a last incentive we usually stop for a bite to eat and a hot chocolate after. Any time I can get the family out together and the boys aren’t playing video games, I am one happy Momma.

I absolutely love everything about snowshoeing, and I can’t wait to hit the trail with my youngest son at Mt. Seymour in the next couple of weeks.

I would love to hear about great snowshoeing trails in other parts of Canada so let us know in the comments where you go near your home.

Title image @ www.accentinns.com