AEROBIC SYSTEM OTHER GREAT BENEFITS OTHER GREAT BENEFITS
Hip flexors, hamstrings, calf muscles, gluteal group and the quadriceps are likewise activated when snowshoeing, making it an excellent substitute for running.
In the last two decades snowshoes have evolved from large and clunky to small, sleek and lightweight. These equipment advances make it possible to maintain your natural running your gait. The crossover aerobic benefits from running to snowshoeing are even more obvious. Your heart and lungs don’t know the difference between sports. An hour spent with a heart rate of 150 beats per minute, has the same benefit whether you are running or snowshoeing. The primary difference is in muscle specificity when comparing sports, but you will get the same basic aerobic stress load and an adaptive response to the workload will occur. This is the reason why athletes from very different endurance sports can reach similar VO2 max numbers. The stress load on your heart and lungs is essentially the same and generates the same adaptive response. Snowshoeing will challenge you in different ways. There is an additional element of balance required for snowshoeing that your body needs to fight for which is good for your proprioception and general body awareness. The added weight with the snowshoes, extra clothing and hillier terrain will add a strength component. Running on pavement is extremely hard on the body because of the impact load but the much more forgiving surface of snowshoeing lends itself to more frequency and the ability to go longer without the same risk of injury due to the impact load. more muscle groups. This is partly the reason why crosscountry skiers often have VO2 max numbers higher than other endurance sports. As mentioned earlier, the heart and lungs don’t really know the difference, which means you will get an adaptive response because of the stress load. Cross-country skiing involves little if any impact and as such lends itself to longer sessions like you would get on a bike. Cross-country skiing is great for balance and proprioception. If you are not a seasoned skier or are at the beginning of a season your feet and ankles will have to fight to balance on the ski. Athletes who are new to the sport may find that the muscles in their feet are very tired at the end of a session because they have been so active trying to balance. This proprioceptive challenge is hugely beneficial when considering injury prevention for running.
One of the most profound benefits of snowshoeing and cross-country skiing is the mental change. Endurance sports are typically very linear and can be a bit mundane mentally. Getting out onto the snow on a beautiful clear day in the crisp air and being fully engaged in a different activity can be as good as a holiday.
Jasper Blake is an Ironman champion and head coach at B78 Coaching. Visit www.b78.is.