When the weather turns cold, you need to find an activity to get outside and stay healthy during the winter months. Alpine skiing can be too much of an investment, and driving to resorts is often a barrier for most Massachusetts residents. You need an activity that you can do easily from (or near) your home, that doesn’t cost much money to pick up, and that is easy to learn. Two popular sports fall into these categories: cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.

Though similar in action and season, Nordic skiing and snowshoeing are dramatically different activities. However, there seems to be a divide among winter sports lovers; as with Nordic and alpine skiing, a rift is beginning to appear between cross-country skiers and snowshoeing enthusiasts. Both have benefits and drawbacks—but which one should you try?

Snowshoeing is easier to learn than cross-country skiing, though not by much. You will have ore balance and stability, and the shoes are easier to maneuver. It is easier to get up after a fall, and participants can get a full-body workout when using poles. The equipment is easier to keep in the trunk of your car, and materials are often less expensive than cross-country skiing. You can take your snowshoes nearly anywhere, and the equipment offers a degree of utility; if a bad storm sweeps through your town, you can use snowshoes to navigate the feet of fresh powder.

In contrast, Nordic skiing allows the user to cover more territory. You can quickly and easily glide over the snow on both groomed-trails and forest paths. This means that skiers will be able to experience more outdoor views while exercising. Additionally, you will not need as much snow to get out on the trail. The low-impact, total-body workout is one of the best available, and you’ll be able to cruise downhill if you encounter shallow descents.

Ultimately, your decision to try snowshoes or cross-country skis is wholly personal. However, if you want a fast, fun, and sweaty cardio workout, cross-country skis are the way to go. If you want something slower, quieter, and less expensive, give snowshoes a try. In either case, renting equipment for a day will be affordable—if you can, try both and decide for yourself.

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