#HealthyMe: Laughing at Winter in Snowshoes

If you can’t beat the snow, play in it.

The idea that the bounty of winter weather we’ve had in Grand Rapids and Michigan as a whole should be celebrated, not complained about, led me to a recent date with some snowshoes.

I was able to take a guided walk through some undisturbed trails on Grand Valley State University’s Allendale campus. My fearless leader was GVSU’s Outdoor Adventure Center Manager Joe Bitely, who also happens to be my husband. So it really was a date!

Despite Joe’s position with the university, he’s never been able to talk me into going snowshoeing with him. After writing about the Department of Natural Resources’ Shoe Year’s Hikes and the change it made for one family’s enjoyment of winter, I was ready to give it a try.

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Yup, that’s me!

We strapped on our GVSU-issued snowshoes and were off. I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to get going. The snow that day was fresh and powdery and the trails we took gave us some panoramic views of the ravines below, which included seven deer making their way through a clearing.It felt a little end-of-days with just the two of us out in the woods. The cold wind made the trees snap and bend. When the wind died down, the blanket of snow at our feet gave our surroundings a stilled winter hush. It was breathtaking and exhilarating.

It was also a great workout. Snowshoes work by distributing your weight over a larger area so your foot doesn’t sink completely into the snow. It was definitely easier than trudging around the woods in boots would have been, but it’s definitely still work to keep moving forward. According to Snowshoe Magazine, a 150-pound person can burn up to 450 calories per hour of snowshoeing.snowshoe 3

They take a little bit of getting used to, but as long as you can widen your gait a little and be careful to not step on the backs of your snowshoes or your companion’s (sorry, Joe!), you’ll be “floating” over the snow and enjoying a Pure Michigan winter in no time.

The DNR still has a ton of snowshoeing events listed on their Get Outdoors calendar, including guided hikes and a snowshoe building workshop. Try snowshoeing on for size. It could be the difference between hibernating through, or embracing winter in Michigan for you.

Check out these other great ways to keep your kids active through the winter.

Photo credit: Karen Neoh

This blog post is part of #HealthyMe, a personalized web experience based on your health and wellness goals. To sign up today, visit http://www.ahealthiermichigan.org/healthyme

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