Fit Tip: Grab a Shovel

February 21, 2015 Updated: February 20, 2015

It’s February. Your gym is packed. Don’t wait in line for a machine; get a workout in your driveway and pick up a shovel. It’s more economical than a snow blower, and shoveling is an intense cardio workout that exercises muscles in your legs, core, back, shoulders and arms. If you want to overachieve, you can extend the workout by shoveling the sidewalks or helping out your neighbors. How’s that for accessible? Here are some important ways you can use snow shoveling to make this workout work!

Burn up calories. Shoveling burns more calories than most exercisers realize. The exact amount depends on pace and intensity, but expect to burn around 250 calories for every 30 minutes of shoveling. If you experience lower temperatures, heavy snowfall, or the need to chop ice, you’ll burn even more calories as your body fights to stay warm and increases exertion. (Be safe, of course, and don’t shovel snow if you have a medical condition or you don’t normally exercise.)

Work different muscle groups. Shoveling snow is a high-intensity workout – especially if you shovel fast – and it works all of your major muscle groups. You will feel it the next day in your legs, core, back, shoulders and arms. Use a full range of motion and fire your core muscles as you bend and lift. 

Use proper technique. As with all workouts, proper technique will help improve your workout and avoid strains and soreness. First off, make sure to squat and lift the snow with your legs, not your back. Second, avoid bending over at the hip flexors. Lastly, keep the shovel close to your body and walk to where you will dump the snow instead of over-extending, twisting or leaning to toss it. 

Dress right. Layer, layer, layer. Skip the frostbite and retain the quality workout. Being too cold can be dangerous and will tighten up your muscles. Dress in winter layers, wear good boots with traction (snow and ice mixed can be treacherous) and cover up your hands, ears and head! Remember, being underdressed in the elements can result in injuries, so bundle up right and focus on your cardio and calorie burn!

Dig out from the snow this year and pave the way to a great winter workout – right outside your door!

Source: Visit the Life Fitness blog for more health and fitness information. 

*Image of “shoveling snow” via Shutterstock