Snow Shoveling Safety

Like any physical activity, shoveling snow has its risks. In fact, hospitals reported treating an average of more than 11,000 injuries from shoveling snow each year from 1990 to 2006. The main risks involved in shoveling snow are :

Most of these injuries can be avoided by following a common sense approach to shoveling snow, and by knowing when it is time to hire someone else to do the job.

Stay Safe

The following pointers will help you stay safe while shoveling snow this winter season:

Know When to Say No

For some people, shoveling snow is simply not a good idea. The potential risks far outweigh the cost savings of doing it yourself, and neighborhood help is usually not that expensive anyway. If you have any risk or history of heart disease, heart attack, high blood pressure or high cholesterol, or you live a sedentary lifestyle, consider passing on the shovel. In one study, seven percent of emergency room treatments for snow shoveling injuries were from heart problems. Do not let yourself be one of the seven percent – hire someone else to shovel your snow, or invest in a snow blower.

Avoiding Back Pain

Back pain is the number one snow shoveling related injury and is often avoidable by following safe lifting procedures. Always lift with your legs by squatting down with legs apart, then pushing yourself upward with your leg muscles. Try to leave your back out of the process as much as possible. Make sure you keep your trunk upright while lifting – a bent back suffers strain much more easily than a straight one. Lastly, help support your back by tightening your stomach muscles.

Snow Shoveling: a Healthy Exercise Option

One of the advantages of shoveling snow over using a snow blower is the fantastic cardio workout you can get.

Snow shoveling is about equal to a hard workout on the treadmill in terms of heart rate, blood pressure and perceived effort, according to a study done by the William Beaumont Hospital in Michigan. In another study published by Harvard Medical School, people in three different weight groups were studied after 30 minutes of shoveling snow to see how many calories they burned.

The 125-pound group burned 180 calories, the 155-pound group burned 223, and the 185- pound group burned 266 calories shoveling snow. Vigorous weight lifting and using stair step machines for 30 minutes also burned the same amount of calories.

If you prefer to get your exercise outside the confines of a gym, snow shoveling may just be your next wintertime workout routine. Not only will you burn calories, you will help build your arm and core muscles.