WELLNESS
01/26/2015 04:22 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

How To Get An Actual Workout While You're Shoveling Snow

If you're one of the more than 35 million people staying inside thanks to Winter Storm Juno, you very well may be wondering: But what about my workout?

Okay, you're probably more concerned about having enough food at home to survive being cooped up for a couple days and enough salt to keep the driveway from freezing over. But you also are pretty likely to have some shoveling in your not-too-distant future -- even if you're not affected by this particular storm. 'Tis the season, after all.

The task is never all that fun, but in some instances, the chore can even be dangerous. According to a 2011 study, about 11,500 Americans end up in the emergency room each year from shoveling snow. It's not uncommon to strain your back while shoveling, and, in rarer instances, the combination of cold temps and high exertion can cause heart attacks, especially in people who are otherwise mostly sedentary.

For the physically fit and healthy, however, outdoor activity in cold weather actually boosts the health benefits of regular physical activity; you can expect a slightly higher calorie burn and an extra boost to your heart, for starters. And since you're not about to drive to the gym, why not make your shoveling work for you? Clear off the front steps while getting in a quick workout with the moves below.

Shovel Squats
“snow
(Damon Dahlen/Huffington Post)
You've heard it before and you're going to hear it again right now: The best way to protect your back while shoveling is to ensure that you lift with your legs and not your back. To guarantee you do so, focus on good squat form to bend down and lift each shovelful of snow. With your feet shoulder-width apart or slightly wider, bend the knees keeping the back straight and the chest lifted. Stop when your thighs are roughly parallel to the ground to scoop the snow onto your shovel and return to standing. Standing Oblique Shovel Twists
“snow
(Damon Dahlen/Huffington Post)
Once you've lifted that snow, your safest bet is to carry it to your heaping pile rather than fling it over your shoulder. As you cautiously discard it, stand tall and tuck the hips under, bracing the core, and rotate to each side five times to engage the obliques. Shovel Lunges
“snow
(Damon Dahlen/Huffington Post)
Pushing the snow rather than lifting helps cut down on potential back injuries and limits how many reps of squats you'll be forced to do. But you're not off the hook! Lunge your way across the driveway or along the sidewalk as you push your shovel of snow in front of you. Bend the knees until they form 90-degree angles -- or drop as low as your snow pants and jacket will allow. Keep the front knee in line with the second toe. Shovel Deadlifts
“snow
(Damon Dahlen/Huffington Post)
This one is for experienced snow shovelers weight-lifters only. Carefully try a few deadlifts with your snow-filled shovel as your weight. Keep your feet a bit more than shoulder-width apart and maintain a little give in the knees. Grip your shovel slightly outside your legs and hinge at the hips, keeping the back flat and chest lifted, as you scoop up a light amount of snow to start. Drive through the heels as you straighten back up, and squeeze the glutes as you thrust your hips and return to standing.
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