Shoveling Snow Is A Workout, Here's How To Do It Right

The weather in St. Louis is fickle. That can mean a 70-degree day in December. Followed by a record-breaking snowfall a few weeks later.

With the foot of snow that dropped Sunday capped by a couple of days of bitter cold and strong wind, a lot of people are still dealing with packed snow and slick spots.

And there could be plenty more winter storms and frigid days to come. Last year, 14 inches of snow fell in March, which the National Weather Service doesnt even consider a winter month.

Those snow shovels probably still have a lot of work ahead of them.

Or, more accurately, the folks wielding the shovels do.

Shoveling is one of the most high-intensity exercises you can do, because you engage all your major muscles, says Bill Jaggi, the executive director of the Safety Council of Greater St. Louis.

That includes quadriceps, glutes, biceps, triceps, back and abdominals. A great workout, unless poor technique leads to avoidable aches and pains.

The legs should be doing the brunt of the work, Jaggi says, but lower-back strains are among the most common shoveling injuries. These can happen when shovelers bend at the waist, lift more snow than they should be carrying and twist to fling their load instead of turning their whole body to the side and then letting the snow drop off the shovel.

Most people think youre setting yourself up for a heart attack when shoveling, Jaggi says. And, in fact, at least two men in Harvester[1] and in Alton[2]died last week after being stricken while clearing the snow in front of their homes.

But those occurrences are actually rare, says Jaggi. Muscle strains and sprains happen a lot more frequently.

Jake Fitts, a performance coach at the Sports Medicine and Training Center in Crestwood, emphasizes the need to warm up before heading outside.

And that goes for people who plan on running or walking outside in cold weather, too. Fitts says folks who get injured whether shoveling or working out often havent warmed up sufficiently.

It can be as simple as dynamic stretching moving the body through a range of motion, he says. That includes arm circles, lunges and marching. They help improve flexibility and increase body temperature and blood flow.

Dress in layers, and make sure your fingers and ears are covered. A neck gaiter or scarf can be pulled up over the mouth to protect the face and lessen the effect of breathing extremely cold, dry air.

Walkers can probably get by with snow boots, but runners will need to wear a trail shoe with good tread. Some runners prefer to add removable spikes to their shoes, such as Yaktrax. And pay attention, Fitts warns. Often, slippery spots are difficult to see.

As soon as you come inside, get out of sweaty or wet clothes and do some cool-down stretches.

On bitterly cold days, it might be worth it to move the workout indoors. When its below 10, I wouldnt personally be going outside, says Fitts. And if Im not going to do it, I wouldnt recommend it.

When a big snowfall makes being outdoors mandatory, take your time, and be conscious of the fact that youre doing something you dont normally do, Jaggi says. Snow introduces an extra layer of resistance to any movement. Youre plodding, enhancing your steps.

Also, a lot of people dont realize how tired they are, says Fitts. Make sure youre taking breaks.

Its worth doing a couple of rounds, Jaggi says, shoveling when there are 2 or 3 inches on the ground, and then again later when the snow has stopped.

He suggests using an ergonomic shovel, the kind with a bend in the handle, to reduce stress on the body. Push the snow, rather than lifting it. And use a smaller shovel to keep from picking up more than you can carry.

The snow itself is a factor, too. Wet snows are much heavier and harder to shovel. If rain fell before the snow, a layer of ice may be underneath. Jaggi recommends wearing an old pair of golf shoes with metal spikes if its especially icy.

In addition to working the major muscles, shoveling snow is also a cardiovascular workout, raising your pulse, breathing rate and body temperature. How quickly you shovel, how much youre lifting and how much you weigh all affect the intensity of the workout.

If youre elderly or not in good physical condition, hire it out, he says. They know how to dress and handle the snow.

But if youre in reasonably good shape and eager to keep your driveway clean and dry, Jaggi boils it down to three points: Wear good shoes, keep warm and pace yourself.

You dont want to get yourself into a situation where the red and blue lights are coming at you, he says.


  1. ^ Harvester (www.stltoday.com)
  2. ^ Alton (www.stltoday.com)

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    • XP
    • January 11, 2014

    Can I Have Some Good Workout Tips? Hey could I get some good workout tips. I’m medium built but i want to be lean and fit. I also want to tone and shape my legs a lot. Please tell me if you have any good tips!

    1. Reply

      Yes,visit the following sites for fitness.You may not need a full-fledged diet right now, but you can still incorporate some slim-down strategies into your daily life.

      Eat breakfast. Studies show that eating breakfast is associated with keeping weight off once you’ve lost it.

      Fill up on low-cal foods. Start every meal with the items on your plate that are lowest in calories. By the time you get to the other foods, you won’t be so hungry, possibly decreasing your total intake.

      Begin with soup. Starting lunch or dinner with a broth-based, vegetable-filled soup will curb hunger so you’ll be less tempted to eat higher-calorie foods.

      Arrive fashionably late. Without as much time near the buffet table at parties, you’ll eat less.

      Divide your lunch. Afternoon snacker? Cut your lunch in half: have part at mealtime and the other half later in the afternoon.

      Swap mustard for mayo. A tablespoon of mayonnaise has 100 calories, compared with 10 calories for a tablespoon of yellow mustard.

      Duration of Exercise
      You may not be exercising long enough. The rule of thumb is cardio for 30 minutes, three times per week. If you really want to reach your goal, try five 45-minute cardio workouts per week. That sounds like a lot of exercise, but remember this is in order to meet your goal, not necessarily maintain it.

  1. Reply

    Can You Give Me Some Workout Tips On Buns? I have a big butt and I don’t know how to lose the waight. Can someone help me out? Can you name some workout tips that might work for me?

    1. Reply

      I suggest you eat bread buns for lunch daily. the buns will give your butt a boost in self confidence. it will then want to sit more and you will make more biscuits. dogs love biscuits. and i love dogs. i dont understand how hard it is. by the way, dont use recycle bins..use regular bins to dispose your old buns. or take then to the local park to feed to the birds. its great to give back to nature!! give back! NOW!i demand you leave at once. you are breaking and entering!!

    • Deej
    • January 11, 2014

    What Are Some Good Workout Tips That Will Help Me Get Into Shape Quick? Im 22 5’6″ and weigh 178lbs. im sick of being fat and repulsed when i look in the mirror at my body. i just would like to know some great workout tips to help me get fit and lose about 40 lbs in 2 months

    1. Reply

      Well the best way to lose weight is to run everyday morning and night or after for hour and of course you wont be able to run the whole 1 hour as your not in shape yet so try to run for 30 minutes or more if you can and then walk for like 10 minutes and then run until you get to an hour and if your finally able to run the whole 1 hour start running for 2 hours

      also start weight lifting as well as muscle burns fat so just get normal 15 lb or lighter if its to heavy and do curls dumbbell presses etc and most important of all do free weights such as push ups and if your unable to do allot of push ups do like 10 rest 10 seconds 10 rest 10 rest until you get to 100 or 200 if you can also get a bar and try to do pull ups front wards and you probably wont be able to so try really hard and go to the top and go down slowly, and you will have to do ab workouts like crunches and raise your legs

      and do a quick warm up and and stretch before you lift and also with running do a quick warm up run like 10 minutes then stretch and start your 1 hour run

      the other most important key fact to weight loss is a big change in your diet which mean more calories out then in so no to any fast food for the rest of your life unless you want be fat the rest of your life, don’t eat any junk foods high in fat like donuts and stuff like that because if your going to be burning like 1000 calories and then eating 3000 calories you wont be losing fat but instead just gaining fat and the only difference will be you will be gaining 10 lbs everyday instead of 5 lbs

      what you should eat is salad fruit vegetables yogurt eat meat but not one in a kfc bucket a kind that homemade eat eggs also good in protein

      follow these steps and i guarantee you of you being fit

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