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Calories Burned Shoveling Snow


Come winter and there is a lot more to look forward to, than just cozy nights by the fire and the promise of Christmas round the corner. Winter brings with it snowfall and as the soft snowflakes pile up, they need to be cleared from roads and driveways to make normal routine possible. Shoveling snow is no easy task. In fact, shoveling snow can be a great workout no matter what your age or fitness levels. The activity itself uses muscle groups in the arms, shoulders, and legs as well as in the abdomen, making it an effective full body workout.

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Calories burnt while shoveling snow will depend on how long you shovel for, how vigorously you do it and how much you weigh. The amount of calories burned also depends on gender, age, your rate of metabolism and existing fitness levels.

On an average, light shoveling activity involving light loads of snow and slow shoveling movements burns about 408 calories an hour. For heavy-duty snow shoveling done at a fairly rapid pace, you can expect to burn nearly 612 calories an hour. However, this type of strenuous exercise is only recommended if you are physically fit and used to regular exercising. Get to know about the benefits of exercise to burn calories

On The Brighter Side:

Calories burnt while shoveling snow also depends on what equipment you use as well as your form. Just pushing snow to one side with a shovel wont burn as many calories as picking up a load of snow, carrying it and dumping it elsewhere. Bending down, stretching over, using both arms, and tightening your core muscles while moving, will enhance the calorie burning power of snow shoveling.

A snow shovel is the most common equipment for moving the accumulated snowflakes. A metal shovel will add more weight and resistance to the exercise than a plastic one. Shoveling snow by hand is another option – though not a very efficient one. Calories burnt shoveling snow by hand is approximately 420 calories per hour. Doing one hour of this type of activity is equivalent to the calories consumed by drinking two regular cans of cola. Shoveling snow using a snowplow will obviously burn the least amount of calories.

A Different Workout:

Shoveling as an exercise activity is extremely effective. Ten minutes of shoveling can be compared to running on a treadmill for ten minutes at high speeds. Shoveling also uses all muscles and has the same effect as lifting weights in a gym. The end of winter does not mean an end to an alternative form of exercise. You can continue to shovel gravel, mulch, and dirt all year round for a different type of workout. Also see calories burnt on a treadmill

Burning calories shoveling dirt and gravel actually demand more energy and muscle power than lifting snow. Calories burned shoveling gravel can amount to nearly 186 calories in half an hour. This is equal to the health benefits received from running a two-mile jog. Mulch in your garden offers another excellent opportunity to workout. Calories burned shoveling mulch range from 300 calorie per hour at a moderate pace up to 430 calories per hour if the shoveling is intense and fast paced.

Shoveling Health Hazards


Most health hazards related to shoveling occur because people are unaware just how strenuous an activity it can be. If you are not accustomed to regular exercise or are not physically fit, shoveling snow or dirt can put a lot of strain on your body. Apart from the extra pressure on your cardiovascular system, other health risks involved with shoveling snow include slipping on ice, lower back injuries, frozen fingers, fractures, and muscle sprains. Exercising in the cold also causes blood vessels to constrict and blood pressure to increase to dangerous levels in a matter of minutes. The heart is therefore overworked and cardiac arrest is a not an uncommon occurrence while shoveling.

Precautions While Shoveling


There are a number of steps you can take to ensure safety during shoveling. Some of them are listed below:
  • Always start with a light warm up exercise routine before beginning shoveling. Do some simple stretches and pump energy.
  • A lot of people want to know what to wear when shoveling snow. Packing on too many layers of clothes may make the activity uncomfortable and awkward. Use thermals under heavy sweaters and work pants and keep your hands and feet covered at all times. Wearing slip-resistant shoes also prevents accidents and injuries.
  • If you are wondering what to eat before and after shoveling snow, always remember to rehydrate. Drink plenty of fluids and stay away from alcohol as it makes you more susceptible to frostbite. A protein rich snack before shoveling will give you an extra energy buzz as well. Avoid caffeine as it acts as a stimulant and can put extra pressure on your heart.
  • Pace yourself and don’t over do it. Take breaks at regular intervals and stretch during these times as well. Always bend your knees when lifting and never fling snow over your shoulder – you are sure to damage your back doing this.
Submitted on December 30, 2011
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