Hiking does not need to be limited to spring, summer, or fall—it is also a wonderful experience in the winter! Exercising in cold weather is healthy, invigorating and refreshing at the same time. And since fewer people hike during the cold months one gets to enjoy more solitude while wandering the winter wonderland.
Hiking and backpacking are some of my big passions. Not only is hiking a great way to experience the beautiful outdoors and get a nice workout while simply walking, but for me it is also a form of meditation and a way to connect with myself and nature. I prefer to go hiking alone or with my partner, but it can be fun with a group of like-minded people as well! It wasn’t until last year that I discovered the beauty of hiking in the cold winter months. Although I grew up in Switzerland, I was never very fond of the cold and didn’t enjoy any of the typical snow sports activities. But last year I was training for a long and strenuous backpacking trip, walking up and down hills with weights on my back a few times per week in preparation. It was during those cold January training days that I discovered that hiking in the snow can be really fun, especially if you are well prepared for your trip.
What makes it so special? The cold air is healthy when you’re exercising, there are terrific snow-laden views, and you’ll find fewer people on the trails! However, it can be more challenging too. It can be difficult to see the trail and harder to follow trail marks. The deeper the snow the harder the workout, and of course being in the cold for extended hours requires appropriate clothing and equipment.
Benefits Of Cold Weather:
Now that it snowed in New York I am eager to go for my next climb up the snowy mountains! In case you’re planning a day of winter hiking yourself but are new to outdoor adventures during the colder seasons here’s a few things to keep in mind:
Essential Items To Bring:
What Is Good To Have:
How To Prepare:
Good To Know:
After the Hike:
Your muscles will be sore even if you work out on a regular basis. The snow will put additional strain on your muslces and the uphill and downhill activity will activate your muscles a bit differently than when you’re running on flat terrain. Hiking uses all the muscles in the body, but the following muscles will get the greatest workout: Your glutes, hip rotators, hip flexors, hamstrings, quadriceps, calves, ankle stabilizers, abdominals, the muscles surrounding the spine, lower and upper back, shoulders, and neck.
I’d recommend that after your hike you take some time to stretch your hamstrings, quadriceps, calves, spine, shoulders, and neck. Getting a massage and making a visit to the steamroom, sauna, and whirlpool are great ways to recover and reduce post-workout soreness, while increasing your overall wellbeing.
Written by Eliane Baggenstos, owner of bodono, Registered Nurse, and Certified Health Coach with certification in Plant-Based Nutrition by the Cornell University and Evidence-based Health Coaching for Healthcare Providers by the National Society of Health Coaches, Licensed Massage Therapist with certifications in Advanced Sports Massage and Medical Massage, and Personal Trainer NASM CPT.