The good news….Shoveling is considered moderate to vigorous exercise. Shovelling for 1 hour burns 408 calories.
The bad news….People who rarely exercise are more than 30x more likely to have a heart attack. Ten minutes of shoveling heavy wet snow made 30 year old mens heart rates the same as running till exhaustion on a treadmill
Do NOT shovel if:
You have had heart attack. A history of heart disease. High blood pressure or high cholesterol. Smoker. Lead a sedentary lifestyle
If you are able to shovel prepare in order to prevent injury
Do not shovel 1-2 hours after eating and avoid caffeine or nicotine before shovelling as they can increase HR and constrict blood vessels
Warm up first – march on spot, do dynamics stretches
Go slow do 5-7 minutes and then take a break for 2-3 minutes
Drink water during, dehydration places extra work on the heart.
Do Not Shovel first thing in the morning if you can avoid it as there is increased fluid in the discs of the low back putting them at risk of injury.
Shovel early and often as newly fallen snow is lighter.
Shoveling is a very stressful motion for the low back. Change direction often.
Alternate bending forward with bending backward.
Proper equipment can make the job easier use an ergonomic shovel, A shovel’s handle is the appropriate length when you can slightly bend your knees, and hold the shovel comfortably in your hands at the start of the shovel stroke. A snow scoop is an oversized shovel that is designed for pushing rather than lifting. An ergonomic model will help prevent injury and fatigue. The bent handle will reduce the amount of bending compared to a straight handle.
Spray the shovel with not stick cooking spray so wet snow slides off.
Dress in several layers so they can be removed as your body warms up. Use gloves/mitts with good grip. Wear a hat, heat is lost through the head. Wear a scarf, cold air can lead to constriction in the airways increasing effort to breathe & constrict blood flow to the heart. Wear boots with non slip soles
Protect your back by lifting properly and safely: Grip the shovel with your hands at least 12 inches apart, and keep one hand close to the base of the shovel. Stand with feet at hip width for balance. Bend from the knees, keep your back straight and tighten your stomach muscles as you lift/move the snow.
Lift with your legs.
Always try to push the snow rather than lifting it, whenever possible!
Stand and face the snow you are about to shovel. If you need to move the snow to one side, reposition your feet to face the direction the snow will be going.
Avoid twisting while lifting, step in the direction in which you are throwing the snow. Keep the shovel close. Scoop small amounts of snow into the shovel and walk to dump snow rather than throwing it. Avoid throwing snow over your shoulder.
Enjoy the fresh air and time outdoors!!
If you should experience pain or want to learn exercises to prevent injury CALL 204-253-2165