The nation has seen a lot of snow in the last few weeks, and shoveling it out of the way can be both beneficial and risky. You’ll burn up to 400 calories per hour scooping your driveway and sidewalk. In addition, shoveling snow provides a high intensity workout that raises the heart rate and tones large muscle groups.
However, scooping the white stuff also places a major strain on the cardiovascular system – it’s no coincidence that instances of heart attack tend to increase dramatically after periods of heavy snow. Cold weather tends to constrict blood vessels so the heart has to work much harder to pump blood through the body. Add the increased heart rate from the shoveling exertion, and one’s heart may well be outmatched, causing a heart attack.
Here are some tips and tricks to make your next snow shoveling operation both healthy and safe:
- Wear boots with good tread to prevent slipping.
- Take a few minutes to warm up your muscles before you begin shoveling. This includes your back, your hamstrings, your quad muscles, and shoulders.
- Use your legs while scooping. Squat – don’t bend your back – and employ your quad muscles to lift a shovel-full of snow.
- Scoop smaller loads – it might take you a little longer to clear your driveway, but it will result in less strain to your heart and back muscles.
- Whenever possible, push the snow rather than lift it.
- Avoid twisting to the side when lifting snow
Shoveling snow may not be a glamour workout, but when done correctly, you’ll benefit from major calorie burn. Just be sure to have the ice pack handy for when you’re finished. And remember – no matter what your age is or your general level of fitness – when you’re moving, you’re improving!