Clear your snow-drifted walks and burn calories quickly at the same time. Snow shoveling is dynamic cardio exercise that uses muscles in your legs, core, back, shoulders and arms as you work to keep your body warm, walk around, lift a shovel loaded with frozen water, brace your core, thighs and upper body against the weight, and repeat a full range of movement with each toss. All of these things add up to a fair workout -- and a strenuous one.
Shoveling snow burns about 223 calories per 30 minutes of activity, according to Harvard Medical School's "Calories Burned..." chart. The cost in calories is calculated based on the activity of a person who weighs 155 pounds.
Body weight is a major factor in how many calories a person burns. You are fueling your body weight at the same time as you're clearing the sidewalk. While a 125-pound person may burn 180 calories in a half-hour of shoveling, a 185-pound person would burn 266 calories doing the same job in the same amount of time.
Chilling, Machines and Other Variables
Several other variables come into play when shoveling snow. The colder it is outside, the more calories you'll burn just staying warm. Shoveling faster will also increase the amount of calories your burn. Likewise, taking long rests between short bouts of shoveling -- or using a snow blower instead of a shovel -- will reduce the amount of calories you burn. A 185-pound person using a snow blower for 30 minutes burns only 200 calories, compared to 266 when shoveling by hand.
Sensible Snow Shoveling
Snow shoveling is intense cardio work and best attempted when you are in good shape. If you are older, out-of-shape and mostly sedentary, or have a medical condition that could put you at risk when performing high-intensity exercise, check with your physician before tackling the front walk.
- "Eat, Drink and Be Healthy"; Dr. Walter Willett, et al; 2006
- "You: The Owner's Manual"; Michael Rozien & Mehmet Oz; 2005
- Harvard Medical School: Calories Burned in 30 Minutes for People of Three Different Weights