For anyone that has shoveled snow, you know it can be a workout! Pushing and throwing that wet, heavy snow can be comparable to a weight-lifting session or even an aerobic workout on the treadmill. According to LiveStrong, an average person can burn 223 calories per 30 minutes while shoveling snow.
So the next time Mother Nature decides to give you an outdoor workout, treat it like you would a gym and prepare! Here are a few tips to make sure you get the most out of your fun in the snow:
Warm Up Before Your Workout.
You wouldn’t want to jump right into a workout session without warming up your body first. The same logic applies for shoveling snow. Jumping right into your shoveling session could open you up for injury. Get the blood flowing a bit by going through a warm-up before you head outside.
If you’ve got a lot of snow, or if the snow is really dense and wet, consider eating a snack for an energy boost. If you’re not sure what you should eat before a workout, check out our list of pre-workout nutrition suggestions!
It’s important to be warm when you’re outside, but you’ll also want to dress in layers! Be sure to wear good boots that will not only keep your feet dry, but also give you good traction so you don’t slip and fall. A hat (most body heat is lost through the head) and gloves (to keep the hands warm and give you a good grip on the shovel) are also a must.
If you’re shoveling in the dark, try and wear something bright or reflective so that any oncoming cars will be able to see you. Better safe, than sorry!
Choose the right shovel.
An ergonomically correct shovel (curved handle) will help you keep your back straight and reduce and stress on the spine. Be aware of the weight of the shovel. Plastic blades tend to be lighter than metal blade shovels and will make a difference when you load it up with heavy snow. Some shovels are also made to push snow, while others are made more for scooping/throwing snow. Use the one that best fits the job at hand.
Use good technique.
Just like in the weight room, good technique goes a long way when shoveling snow. When lifting snow with a shovel, be sure your hands aren’t placed too close together. Extra distance between the hands will give you more leverage and make it easier to lift the snow.
Try to always be aware of your posture by staying tall and not rounding the back too much. Bending at the knees (not the waist or back) and lifting with the legs (keeping your feet spaced apart) is important. Keep the core engaged and dump the snow in front of you – don’t twist and throw or throw over your shoulder!
Know your snow.
Some snowfalls may be light and fluffy, while others are wet and heavy. Know what you’re getting into before you start. If the snow is dense, try and shovel many small loads instead of one large one in order to prevent injury. If the snow is light and fluffy, you may be able to easily slide the snow in one long, smooth motion.
Take a break when needed.
If you feel your heart rate is too high or you simply need to warm up a bit, don’t be afraid to take a break. Listening to your body as you would during a workout is key!