shovel mindfully

Well, here in Prince Edward Island we have finally had a snowfall of some significance.  That means shoveling is on everyone’s activity agenda.  Shoveling snow will give you a great workout, but you want to do it safely.

Did you know that shoveling heavy snow can use as much energy as running at 9mph!  Wow!

Shoveling, done incorrectly, can lead to back injuries.  It also puts a lot of stress on your heart, and additional stress comes from breathing the cold air and being exposed to the cold.  So you want to pace yourself or have someone help you if you have risk factors – like, if you smoke, have heart disease or are deconditioned.  There is bound to be a friendly helpful neighbour or roving youth looking for a few dollars for tossing your snow out of your way.

To prevent injury:

  • find your joy

    Don’t shovel snow immediately after eating a heavy meal.  If you smoke, don’t do this right before hand either.  You’ll be putting an extra load on your cardiovascular system.   Use common sense.

  • Dress in layers.  Peel off clothing as your body becomes warm. Overheating puts extra strain on your heart.
  • Wear a scarf over your nose and mouth to avoid breathing cold air.  This is a great idea for many cold weather activities.
  • Wear a hat to retain body heat.  You never know what will leak out of your head.
  • Pace yourself.  Take frequent  breaks; make snow angels and toss snowballs – enjoy yourself out there.
  • Shovel by bending your legs slightly at the knee.  Let your thigh muscles do most of the pushing and lifting work; this will reduce strain on the heart and back.  No need for squats or lunges at the gym this weekend!
  • Practice portion control! Use a shovel with a small scoop so your loads are light and small.
  • Stay hydrated! You will be sweating more than you realize. Be sure to drink plenty of fluids before and after shoveling to replenish the fluids lost in the process.  Plan on some nice cocoa when you come in, or mulled cider.  Yum.