This winter chore can be intense. Here’s what you need to know if you’re in charge of cleaning powder. If you’ve shoveled a lot of snow, you might want to reduce the intensity of your other exercises so you don’t overdo it.

Anyone who’s ever plowed a driveway knows that shoveling is physically taxing. But does that count as exercise? It depends on how you define a workout. If you think of exercise as a planned, structured, repetitive form of physical activity intended to improve health or fitness, then shoveling when a big storm hits doesn’t fit the definition. But that’s not all. Shoveling can definitely be considered a cardio activity, and if you do it regularly, you’ll likely build some strength too.
But since this activity can be physically taxing, you have to consider the risks before getting out the shovel.

Shoveling can be considered a cardio workout

While it’s debatable whether shoveling should be considered exercise, it absolutely counts toward the recommended 150 minutes of physical activity per week. It is more of a cardiovascular exercise than a weight training exercise, as it lasts longer than a classic weight training session. Don’t be fooled by the routine nature of the activity. Shoveling is a seriously vigorous activity and probably more physically taxing than what you might normally do for exercise. It may even look like a peak in stress during a stress test (a tool used by doctors to measure how hard your heart is working during physical activity). If this type of activity is out of the ordinary for you, it may even increase your risk of heart attack.

And if you’re hungry when you’re done, there’s a reason: You can burn 600 calories in an hour of shoveling snow. It’s closer to an extended HIIT workout.
So, while you can undoubtedly count shoveling as part of your physical activity, it is much more strenuous activity than “healthy” vigorous activity should be, for reasons we will discuss.

Shoveling works multiple muscle groups

Do you have pain after shoveling? It is not a surprise. This task strains your muscles in a way they are not used to unless you do similar movements regularly, for example during rigorous gardening. Your technique will determine the number of muscle groups you use. Try not to let your arms, shoulders and back do all the work. Use your core and legs, which will probably help you be a little more efficient and allow your upper body to tire a little less.

Edit other weekly workouts

Whether you need to modify your training program after snow clearing depends on the intensity of your work and the intensity of your usual training sessions.
No matter how tired you are, you can always go for a walk and this activity can even help relieve pain. But if you’re training for a marathon and feeling completely exhausted after shoveling snow, you better cut back on your training mileage for at least a day or two.

If you’ve planned a weight training day at the gym, be sure to give your body plenty of time to recover after shoveling, especially your upper body, which has probably done a good chunk of the work. If you’ve scheduled an upper body day, consider replacing it with a lower body day or another less strenuous form of activity. And whatever your next workout, if plowing has been tough, take it a little slower than usual during your regular sweat session.

You can also use your workouts as a way to prepare for the snow season if you live in a place where snowfall is common each year. It’s hard to mimic snow shoveling perfectly, but kettlebell moves are probably the closest.

Consider the risks associated with shoveling snow

If a prolonged, high-calorie workout sounds like a good challenge, experts advise you to think twice. This type of high-intensity activity carries risks, especially if you are not used to regular or vigorous exercise.

Shoveling snow can be dangerous on many levels. First of all, it’s not an activity that most people do very often, and it’s easy to overdo it because the stopping cue is the surface of your driveway and sidewalks, or the amount of snowfall. Unlike a walk or a 30 minute workout, most people don’t shovel for a set amount of time, they shovel until the job is done.

Exercise is also taxing on major muscle groups, making people more prone to injury, including lower back pain. Or like rotator cuff tendonitis and swollen elbow tendons, all brought on by shoveling snow.

And then there is the fact that shoveling snow is done in a particularly cold environment. Many people start taking layers off because they feel hot in very, very cold weather. It is not good for the vascular system. On the periphery of your body, the vessels are all wide open trying to get rid of all that heat. And then all of a sudden they take their coat off and it gets hit with the cold air, and it’s a shock to the system. In some people, this shock can contribute to fainting, stroke, and heart attack.
This is why people with a history of heart disease, stroke, or significant high blood pressure, as well as pregnant women, should avoid shoveling snow.

In summary

Shoveling snow is certainly a physical activity, but it is much more demanding than regular exercise. Unless you decide to use a snowblower, you can definitely count this activity towards your physical activity minutes. If snow removal is part of your routine, take it easy on your other workouts. And if you have health conditions that make vigorous activity dangerous, have someone else clear the driveway for you.

* criptom strives to transmit health knowledge in a language accessible to all. In NO CASE, the information given can not replace the opinion of a health professional.