If you live in New Hampshire, you learn to live with long winters. This is especially true this year. Rather than the typical 60 inches of snow we expect annually, 2018 looks likely to break some records.
Snow shoveling can help prevent cabin fever
With all the white stuff covering roads and walkways, driving, walking, running and doing almost anything outdoors becomes a challenge.
Winter can confine you to your home, depriving you of needed sunlight, fresh air and outdoor exercise. This creates a perfect scenario for cabin fever.
But the light at the end of proverbial tunnel that motivates you to get outside and get fit requires all that snow. It’s snow shoveling! Simple to do, snow shoveling provides a great incentive to venture out and use lots of muscles. Your goal is well-defined: dig your way out to freedom, clearing driveways, walkways, decks, cars and whatever else you need to regain mobility and get around.
Snow shoveling is moderate intensity activity
According to the Surgeon General’s Report on Physical Activity and Health, just 15 minutes of snow shoveling counts as a moderate intensity activity.
But, as with any exercise, you need to take proper safety measures before heading outside. This will help keep you healthy and injury free.
Here are 8 tips to consider before you go out, shovel in hand:
- Warm-up and stretch indoors before you step outside and begin shoveling.
- Take a break from shoveling every 15 minutes or so. This gives your body time to recover.
- Dress in layers so you can remove them as you warm-up. Put on a hat and gloves. Make sure you wear good snow boots that keep your feet dry.
- Drink water. Stay well hydrated in the cold especially if you sweat a lot or if the air is dry.
- Choose a shovel size and weight that is ergonomically best for you. This will help put less strain on your body. Think plastic shovels if you want something lighter.
- Push the snow whenever possible. It’s easier than lifting and tossing the snow. Plus, it puts less strain on your back.
- If you must lift and toss the snow, make sure you bend your knees, keep your back straight, tighten your stomach muscles, take small scoops and walk to where you want to place the snow. Avoid twisting your back.
- Think heart health. If you experience any unusual pain, especially in the chest, arm or shoulder, stop immediately and get help.
The winter of 2018 will no doubt provide additional storms offering a great opportunity to get some fresh air, outdoor exercise and have some fun in the snow at the same time. Be careful, go slowly and stay mindful of your technique.
As you shovel, take in the beauty of nature and consider adding snow shoveling as one of the physical activities you will do to meet your 2018 fitness goals.