Snow shoveling can be a great workout.

Snow shovelling can be a great workout.

It can be tough to go out for a run after getting dumped on with snow overnight, but there are always good alternatives for getting in a workout. Shovelling snow out of your driveway gets your workout done and clears the way for other errands later in the day.

Shovelling snow, one of Canada’s favourite pastimes, can double as a great workout, but be wary about attacking it whimsically. Like any workout plan, there are techniques to follow and safety concerns to consider. Snow can get heavy and if not lifted correctly the task can be hard on your back, but it can offer a great core workout.

“Lifting and heaving snow will challenge the corset function of your abs to brace and protect your spine,” says Jon-Erik Kawamoto, strength specialist and Canadian Running contributor who owns JKConditioning in St. John’s, N.L.

“The best technique for shovelling snow is hiring a snowplow or using a snowblower,” jokes Kawamoto. “All kidding aside, make sure you have a long enough shovel for your height. Don’t lift too much snow in your shovel at one time, and make sure you squat down slightly and hinge over at your hips before picking up the snow in your shovel.”

You’ll get a good workout, and you will be aerobically fatigued, as many already know, but shovelling snow will primarily work on your strength, mostly in your abs and legs.

“Don’t lift too much snow in your shovel at one time and make sure you squat down slightly and hinge over at your hips before picking up the snow in your shovel. Do not round your back and twist. This is a recipe for a sore back. Primarily use your legs and hips, along with your upper body to stand with the snow,” suggests Kawamoto. “If you know how to deadlift a barbell, think of that technique.”

So next time you can’t get out for a run because there’s too much snow, at least get a workout in by clearing the driveway. If you’re not satisfied, your neighbours probably need shovelling done as well.


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