Shoveling snow for a lot of people is a drag. This has always been the case for me. If I knew then what I knew now, perhaps I would see things differently. Little did I know that a simple 15 minute shoveling session would count as actual physical activity. That’s it. Only 15 minutes. In my new life I find that snowfall excites me because it allows me to get out there and do some efficent exercise. There is no “shoveling snow simulator” at the gym so this is always a unique way for me to work out. If the snow is keeping you from going to the gym, this post is really for you. Shoveling has great effects on your muscle tone and development because it challenges many of the major muscles in your body. Also this activity will raise your heart rate and burn a ton of calories at the same time. ANY cardiovascular activity is beneficial to your heart and lungs which can help lower lower blood pressure and treat bad cholesterol. Even for “fit” people, studies show that based on heart rate, shoveling snow is a moderately intense workout. In my mind the word moderate in this scenario really means thorough. A good moderate workout is a good thorough workout.
The two major factors when deciding to go out and engage is the temperature and the amount of snow. Lets start from the beginning. First, you are going to want to stretch. Just like any time you are at the gym, stretching is always a good idea. One of these days I will make a post strictly about stretching, different techniques and the importance. Get to the snow quick. The softer and more powdery the snow is, the easier it will ultimately be for you to shovel. The cold air out there makes it harder to breathe. This will make the physical work harder and add strain to your body so think about that first. For instance the polar vortex. It is probably best, no matter who you are to just stay inside on days like that.
Let’s get into technique. Proper snow shoveling technique will entail squating, lifting, pushing, and lunging. Lift with your legs not with your back. Next, think about your own physical condition. If you have been inactive for a while and think shoveling snow is your duty rather than treating it like an exercise, you are very much mistaken. This is problem #1 and the reason you see people get heart attacks from shoveling. If you have heart and/or back problems it is best not to shovel at all. Call the plow company. Next, think about owning a good shovel. I can’t stress enough how this makes all the difference in the world. In this day and age you really have your choice of brands and stores. Pick one out light in weight and that feels comfortable on your hands. Try and push the snow rather than lifting it to the nearest snow bank. No need to walk a mile with each scoop.
At the end of the day snow shoveling is nostalgic and should be fun. We have all done it as kids in 1 way or another. Whether we did it for our parents, walked around the neighborhood with friends ringing doorbells, or now in present time doing it for the workout. Find a way to make it enjoyable. Sometimes I slap some headphones on with WFAN sports talk radio in my ear or some good music. Just the other day, my neighbor and I were digging out our cars while laughing and joking around. This made the time go much quicker. After a good shoveling session, I like to come inside and immediately do a few sets of pushups, burpees, and ab rolls. This in my mind just builds on what I already did outside. Followed by of course a glass of the finest protein shake out there, Designer Whey!
If we are going to live in the miserable cold, lets at least get something out of it. Like a good workout. The spring can’t get here soon enough when I will have tons of great outdoor tips.
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