Background: Recently, there has been an increase in popularity and participation in the sport of snowshoeing. While the sport has gained considerable recognition, to date there is little or no scientific research regarding training responses to snowshoeing as a form of exercise. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to determine whether snowshoe training could improve fitness measures. A further purpose was to compare responses from a snowshoe training program to a similarly designed run training program.
Methods: This prospective, comparative study was conducted with healthy males and females between the ages of 19 and 24. These subjects were recruited from the University of Vermont population and surrounding community. Following baseline measurements in VO2max, running time to exhaustion (RTE), and anthropometry, 17 subjects (10 snowshoers and 7 runners) participated in a six week conditioning program. Both groups exercised for 30 min at 75-85% age predicted maximum heart rate, 3-4 times per week, for a total of 18 sessions.
Results: VO2max improved significantly in both running and snowshoeing groups, 6.3 and 8.5%, respectively. Run time to exhaustion also improved significantly in both groups, 23.3 and 33.5%, respectively. There were no changes in anthropometry for either group. With the exception of RTE, there were no statistically significant differences between groups in any other measurements at baseline.
Conclusions: These results support the acceptability of snowshoeing as a valid means to improve or maintain cardiovascular endurance.