The winter season and its inclement weather can certainly keep us from enjoying outdoor activities and exercise. If it’s an ice storm or cold rain, indoor activities certainly are the best option. However, if it SNOWS…try making it an opportunity for outdoor fun and exercise for the entire family!
Any type of exercise, i.e. walking, shoveling, sweeping, or playing in the snow is very challenging. However, poorly prepared muscles can lead to muscle tears and soreness that could last for days. So, before embarking on these activities, warm up and stretch. Doing a few torso twists, body weight squats and a few jumping jacks will get the blood pumping to warm the muscles. Add some leg stretches, torso side bends and shoulder rotations and now you are ready to go outdoors for SNOW FUN EXERCISE!
Snow Walking – requires you to lift your legs higher which works the thighs and buns. In perfect weather conditions, a person of average build (155 lbs.) can burn 136 calories per hour walking. Calories burned can be cranked up to 400 per hour by walking uphill in the snow! That could certainly burn off holiday eating!
Snow Shoveling – Our legs are the strongest part of the body – use them and not your lower back when shoveling snow. Your legs and abdominal muscles (core) will get a great work out, and your back will love you for it. Stand with your feet about hip width for balance, holding the shovel close to the body. Bend from the knees and tighten your abdominals muscles when lifting the snow. Do not use any twisting movements. When moving the snow to one side, reposition your feet to face the direction where you will be placing the snow. A person of average build (155 lbs.) can burn 422 whopping calories in one hour shoveling snow! If you weigh more, you will burn more.
Here’s a word of caution for those with a history of heart problems, who are overweight or simply lead a sedentary lifestyle. The American Heart Association warns that the sudden exertion of snow shoveling combined with cold temperatures can cause problems for those who are not fit. It is also advisable for those who suffer with asthma or lung sensitivity to wear a scarf or facemask. Avoid caffeine prior to shoveling and drink plenty of water. Even though it’s cold outside, you can sweat and dehydrate just like the summertime. Dress in layers and remove a layer when necessary. Lastly, but most importantly…listen to your body. If it’s telling you to stop, STOP!
Some other snow activities that will require warming up and stretching the body include:
- Cleaning Car(s) – Works arms and torso. Stretching is required for cleaning the roof, especially with a sports utility vehicle.
- Snowman or Snow Family Building – Lots and lots of bending. Bend from the knees and lift with the legs and abdominal muscles.
- Good “Ole” Fashion Snowball Fight – Again, lots and lots of bending. Make sure you prepared your shoulders by doing arm and shoulder rotations. Throwing snowballs with unprepared arm can lead to muscle aches.
- Helping a Neighbor with Snow Removal – Great for the body, soul and spirit!
Enjoy and Have Fun