Winter is an exceptional time of year. Skiing and snowboarding are great snow sports enjoyed by millions. But these are just the tip of the iceberg, and the slopes can get crowded. There are dozens of sports you can explore to stay active and fit in the wintertime. With a little creativity and personal initiative, you can make winter your favorite time of year.
Join me today as I explore 5 snow sports that go beyond skiing and snowboarding.
What is snowshoeing, and why is it so popular?
People have been using snowshoes for thousands of years to move around in deep snow. They are powerful tools that can unlock frozen worlds of beauty. If you like hiking, you should definitely give snowshoeing a try.
After skiing and snowboarding, snowshoeing is the most popular and well-known winter sport. Many snowboarders and skiers also enjoy snowshoeing because it opens up access to trails and slopes they couldn’t otherwise reach.
Snowshoeing is similar to cold weather running. They are both outdoor cardio activities that you can use to get your heart rate up and keep your body in tip-top form. When you go into the backcountry, snowshoes are necessary. They allow you to get away from the crowds and enter a world where the only people you see are other committed enthusiasts and professionals. Backcountry trails are a solitary world of beauty and wonder. If you can strap skis or a snowboard to your back, you get an additional treat. You can be the first, and maybe the only, person to go down some amazing slopes that have no ski lifts or crowds.
Snowshoes also make mountain peaks accessible in the wintertime. No matter how many times you’ve hiked to the top in the summertime, the same mountain looks completely different when it’s covered in snow. The view can be awe-inspiring and is an amazing reward after a long hike.
Tubing is often seen as something for kids to enjoy, but it can be a rewarding snow sport for adults, too. Sliding down the slopes is a great way to let go of work stress and have fun without a lot of effort. It also burns a surprising number of calories. If you want to mix up your workout routine or need a break from some of your heavier routines, consider giving tubing a try.
If you’re new to snow or winter sports, tubing is an easy way to get familiar with the basics of winter sports. It’s something all of your friends can enjoy, even if they don’t have the time to learn a whole new sport.
Tubing gets you familiar with a lot of the gear necessary to stay warm and have fun in the snow. Almost everyone can enjoy tubing, so it’s accessible to everyone. Lots of kids enjoy snow tubing before they learn how to ski or snowboard, but even adults find hours of fun going tubing. It’s easier and safer than skiing, but it still gets you a good workout. So if you’re too tired or recovering from an injury, snow tubing may be the right way to go. If you’re a parent, it’s a sport you can enjoy with your children if they’re too small for skiing or snowboarding. It’s also really easy to learn, so it’s a great idea for an outing with less-active friends and family members. It’s also a great idea for a date.
Runners who live in cold climes can switch up their game when the temperature is low by strapping on some speed skates. It’s an exciting and safe way to get that adrenaline rush and stay fit when it’s cold outside.
There is a lot of overlap between running and speed skating, so if you like running you should definitely consider speed skating. Cross-training between the two sports helps strengthen your legs and body beyond what running can do alone. I use the Garmin Vivoactive 3 to measure my heart rate and other fitness indicators. Use it while speed skating, snowshoeing, or during other winter sports. It will help you accurately track your performance as you pursue your goals and achieve new personal records.
You can get a lot more speed on skates than when you’re running, so it gives you a different kind of exhilaration. Speed skating is a great way to change up your winter workout and make it feel fresh and new.
If you like to run, give speed skating a try. You may find more excitement with both activities in your life.
Skating can be more than a winter workout. Most people can get a little down when it’s cold and dark outside. For others, the wintertime blues can develop into a serious condition called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Ice skating is a great way to elevate your mood in the wintertime. A pair of skates can be your gateway to the creative dance of figure skating, the adrenaline that comes from speed, or the hard-hitting competition of hockey. Explore the ice and discover what you’ve been missing out on. It might develop into a life-long love affair with the ice. You might even find yourself a little sad when the flowers start to bloom.
One of the least common snow sports starts with a bike frame and adds skis instead of wheels. I have friends who get really sad when they have to put up their bikes when it starts to snow. The emerging sport of ski biking is giving thousands of adventuresome people new ways to get their adrenaline fix.
If you like mountain biking, then you should definitely give ski biking a try. It is a great change of pace from traditional downhill snow sports. It’s similar enough to remind you of mountain biking, but different enough to give you a whole new perspective.
Ski Biking is easier to learn than snowboarding and alpine skiing, but it is still exhilarating and fun. Many of the skills you learn on a mountain bike transfer pretty easily to a ski bike.
It’s a good workout, too. Some people get complacent and less-active during the cold months. If you’re not a of fan of traditional snow sports, give ski biking a try. It has its own unique set of skills and is a niche sport that can be fun to learn for a change of pace. Some enthusiasts picked up ski biking on a whim, only to discover a life-long passion.
Swimming in the winter is not for the faint of heart, and jumping into icy water takes courage and strength. Ice diving is a fun wintertime activity that takes thrill-seeking to new depths. Exposure to cold water can also provide some of the benefits of cryotherapy. Also, exposure to cold weather builds healthy brown fat. Unlike regular fat, brown fat increases your metabolism and helps you burn more calories when it’s cold outside. People who indulge in cold weather often develop the ability to stay warmer longer and have more energy when the temperature drops.
More and more professional athletes are discovering the many benefits of cryotherapy. Not only does it build brown fat, it’s also good for your skin and lungs. Athletes are always looking for the safest and fastest ways to increase energy, and cryotherapy is a great way to give yourself a metabolic boost. It also increases your endurance, lung capacity, and skin tone.
If you like a good challenge, sign up for a polar bear plunge where crowds of people jump into open water during the winter. Many ice divers got their start at a polar bear plunge, and it’s a great way to meet interesting people. You may discover a hidden talent and develop a love for the cold. At the very least, you’ll get a good story to impress your friends.
Explore More Snow Sports This Season
There is a significant advantage to exercising in the wintertime: You never have to worry about overheating. You will stay quite warm when you use the right gear. And once you get out in the cold, you can keep yourself comfortable and happy by adjusting your gear to let in cold air or keep it out.
Cold weather sports provide unique health benefits, including cryotherapy, that can make you happier and more productive in all areas of your life. Winter sports make great vacation ideas, too.
The road less traveled is full of hidden treasures, and life is short, so make the most of it. Give lots of different snow sports and activities a try. The more well rounded you become, the more talents you will discover.
How are you keeping busy this winter? Millions of people are rediscovering snow sports and exploring the mountains in the wintertime. I recommend getting outside for some fun and sun in the snow. Give an alternative sport a try; you may find a lifelong passion for when the weather is cold.