Saturday, February 6, 2010

Snow Way! Work Up a Sweat after the Snow Storm

Call it Snowpacalypse. Name it Snowmageddon. Dub it a blizzard that hit an area that might see three feet of snow across an entire winter--and even that's doubtful--not 30-plus inches of snow in 24 hours. But the snowfall doesn't have to mean you're cooped up indoors until the roads are cleared. Sure the snow puts a damper on grocery shopping--my brother-in-law reported that the shelves were bare on Friday--and may keep you from the gym for a day or two, but it only livens up the outdoor activities.

And it makes me jealous: Chicago's been pretty devoid of snow lately aside from a few flurries and I still have a few weeks before returning to ski country, so this powder hound was plotting how she'd spend a snow day. I'm big on lists these days, sorry, and almost set out to share my suggestions for activities that could give you a calorie burning workout without heading to the gym, stuff I wish I could be doing if I had snow to play in. But the D.C. peeps beat me to the punch as these pictures prove and were already making the most of the record snowfall. Even some of my seemingly far-fetched ideas were not so out there. The snowfall brought any and every pursuit out of the woodwork, including those that don't work as well in the snow:

Snowmen, snow forts and snowballs, oh my! It's almost too easy to hearken back to being a kid and making all three of these after a big snowfall. But back then you probably didn't think about their metabolic benefits. DuPont Circle hosted a snowball fight initially promoted through Facebook and other social networking sites. The chasing, dodging and tossing immediately gets the blood rushing. Rolling snowballs--the bigger the better--works the legs and the arms, especially when you have to push your entire body into it to get it to move.

Snowboarding. I couldn't believe this picture from Rock Creek Park: Mason Calhoun took his snowboard out for a ride in the park. It might not be the best vertical, but what is when you're in the capital and usually have to go to West Virginia or Pennsylvania for decent skiing and riding?

Nordic tour through the city. I always joke that I'll cross-country ski or snowshoe to the grocery store if the roads are bad and I don't want to walk on the unshoveled and unsalted sidewalk. While Chicago hasn't had the snowfall to let me do it, someone did use his skis to reach the White House. Cross-country skiing is always reported as being one of the best cardio exercises available and can torch more than 500 calories per hour. It's not every day that you can click into your skis or strap on your snowshoes at your front door and go for a tour--forget driving to a park.

Snow running. OK, there's really nothing special to snow running, I'm just giving running a fancy name because of the conditions endured. A little snow usually doesn't stop runners from getting outside too move the legs, often quoting it beats the treadmill. But many might agree that 30 inches is just too much. Alas, not true for the lululemon running group at the Logan Circle location. They left at 10 a.m. for a fun run through the snow and made the running look easy. It doesn't even look like they have grippers like Yaktrax over the soles to prevent slippage on the snow.

Snow biking. I hope this name isn't trademarked for the activity popularized at ski resorts--a bike-like frame where the wheels are replaced with skis--since that's the only way I can describe
pedaling mountain bikes through the snow. A Facebook friend found two to six inches of hard pack on the streets and said it was "So. Much. Fun." His status is awesome: "Those of you in the DC area of the two-wheeled persuasion, if you haven't gotten out yet, go grab your fat-tire bike. You won't regret it." 'Nuf said. (Note: this was added Feb. 7 after the snow had settled.)

Almost forgot the other winter favorite: sledding. It might not offer as much exercise as running or biking but it's just as fun--or more with the snow flying up around you. And you still have to run up the hill after each run--instant workout.

Make the most of a snowstorm and get outside. Your body will thank you for it. Or you could trek to the store to pillage for food...with an hour and a half line at one Whole Foods, that's easily an adventure in itself. Photos grabbed from theqspeaks and Kurlylox1 at, Elyse Braner and Bruce Buckley. Posted by Kate

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