Really…. Shoveling CAN BE one hell of a workout. Over 55 million Americans join fitness centers to get access to medicine balls to throw, dumbbells to lift, and kettle-bells to carry. Well… lifting, carrying, and throwing snow can give you that same total body workout (it could even MAKE you money).
There are so many benefits to shoveling this winter. In one 30-60 minute effort, (depending on your driveway size) you’ll get:
Multi-plane strengthening exercise that works your upper body, lower body, and core
Cardiovascular exercise- it’s a natural form of interval training
Mega calorie burning- research shows that combining ‘weight’ (in this case snow) and cardiovascular training is superior for weight management
Fresh crisp air in a season where we get far too little- this goes a long way toward breaking the ‘winter blues’
A SUPER efficient workout- knock off a time sensitive task without driving anywhere
Before you jump out of your seat to grab your snow shovel… hold onto your knickers!
Just like you wouldn’t toss on the gym shorts and start box jumping… you don’t want to start lifting 30-50lbs of snow 10 minutes after rolling out of bed. Just like you would warm-up for any higher level activity, it’s important to warm-up for shoveling. Here are a few tips:
Dress warm- if you’re freezing you’ll tend to be stiff and you’ll be more likely to pull a muscle
Start with lighter loads on the shovel and build into it as you get warmer
Once warmed up- work toward the hardest part of the driveway- this way you’re doing the hardest work while you are fresh, but loose. In other words, don’t save toughest section for last- when you’re fatigued and most vulnerable. Fatigue is a major risk factor for injury.
Throw the snow BOTH ways- As awkward and sloppy as you feel it is a great way to prevent core imbalances (another injury risk factor!) and a way to work on coordination (an area often lacking in workout programs!)
Respect your fitness level- take micro breaks as needed to not over-tax your muscles/joints or heart. (Stay within your ability… just like you would at the gym)
Watch those body mechanics! Keep the core tight, the weight on your heels, bend your knees and keep the shovel close to your body. Push the snow along the ground when able/necessary and drive the shovel with your legs.
Hydrate! Sounds weird, but it is especially important in the AM when you’ll wake dehydrated… when it’s cold you aren’t likely to realize how much you’ll sweat inside that winter parka.
The old age ‘Attitude is everything’ certainly applies here. Next time mother nature drops some snow on your driveway--- look at it as a GREAT OPPORTUNITY.