attempts to ice skate resulted in splayed ankles and bewildered looks
from other skaters effortlessly cruising around the rink. The same
held true for downhill skiing, where I quickly became an
out-of-control weapon of mass destruction to those who occupied even
the tamest of bunny slopes. But even I have found a winter sport that
allows me to embrace the season. Even I can snowshoe and have been
happily sauntering through Wisconsinís most dismal weather months
for the past 10 years.
"If you can walk, you can
snowshoe," says Christine Walbrun, who works in customer sales at
REI in Brookfield. "Thereís no technique required."
Snowshoes have been flying off the shelves.
Mathew Lehmann, store manager at Laacke & Joys in Brookfield, says
his store sold 95 percent of its stock last year. "Last winter
was so long that people were sick of being inside and wanted to get
outside," Lehmann says.
So if youíre looking to overcome cabin
fever, the antidote may be as simple as a walk on snowshoes in a
nearby park. Here are a few recommended models of the shoes for the
beginner to the expert. Check out their sleek designs (forget past
images of oversized tennis rackets) and retail prices:
Weíre only halfway through winter, and if
youíre already bored with the gym, relief is just outside the door.
Many Badger residents take to the areaís cross-country and snowshoe
trails as well as the ski slopes for regular exercise and fun.
But if youíre an outdoor winter exercise
novice, there are some important things to remember about hydration
and fuel consumption. First, be aware that your body needs as much, if
not more, water or some other liquid hydration during outdoor
activities in winter as in summer, according to Kristin Kipp, the
university wellness coordinator at Marquette University.
Dehydration is accelerated in cold weather
or at higher altitudes because the air we breathe is drier. When we
breathe, our bodies humidify dry air and heat it up to our bodyís
In cold weather, your body has to work
harder to humidify the air you breathe and to warm it up, meaning that
you need to drink more water and eat more if you are outdoors.
"Especially at a high altitude, your thirst mechanism isnít as
active," Kipp says. "Your body may need liquid, but youíre
not getting the message. You need to hydrate before exertion and
regularly during all outdoor activities."
Kipp advises hydrating ahead of time if youíre
going to be out in the elements for less than an hour. Any longer,
take water or something else to drink with you. A good general
recommendation is to consume 1 ounce of fluid per kilogram of body
weight each day. So if you weigh 60 kilograms (about 132 pounds), you
should consume 60 ounces of fluid daily as well as replenishing fluid
lost while exercising.
The same holds for fuel. "When we
shiver, thatís burning fuel," Kipp explains. "And like
thirst, you may be hungry and need fuel and not feel it." If youíre
outside more than 75 to 90 minutes, youíll need to replace calories
youíve been burning while exercising. Kipp recommends replacing 100
to 250 calories per hour. Most gels, sports beans or chews are around
And finally, Kipp urges those taking up
outdoor winter activities to ease into it. Start with short periods
outdoors and work up. And donít forget to warm up before going out
into the cold.
Lightning Ascent: $289.95, REI. This snowshoe is designed for
all skill levels and works equally well on local trails or
traversing icy-crusted snow on mountainous terrain. Features menís
and womenís models.
Lightning Flash: $199, Laacke & Joys. This is the perfect
snowshoe for intermediate users. The bindings can be easily
adjusted, so the shoes can be put on and taken off quickly, and
provide for great stability.
Revo Explore: $199, REI. With its integrated molded flexible
frame, this is a comfortable snowshoe ideal for longer jaunts in
the great outdoors on any terrain.
Endeavor: $219, REI. This unisex model is great for the
beginner, with a flexible nose and simple binding of one strap
on the front that you can tighten up, but is also appropriate
for expert use in any conditions.
Wilderness: $199, Laacke & Joys.
Wilderness is designed with bigger crampons to grab more snow on
unpacked trails and off-trail walking in unstable snow
conditions. This is a very popular model for hunters.
Xplore: $169, Laacke & Joys. The Xplore is best suited for
entry-level use on even trails such as parks or golf courses.