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Snow no excuse for inactivity
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Employees at the Great Bend Tribune are taking part in the “Give Your Heart a Break” initiative sponsored  by the Great Bend Rotary, Great Bend Chamber of Commerce and USD 428 Great Bend Schools to encourage fitness.  Teams compete in three challenges, including most weight lost by a team, most miles completed by a tem, and most hours of exercise completed by a team.   
With the appearance of snow this week, some may find themselves unable to get to the gym.  Have no fear, shoveling snow by hand is considered not only a moderate to vigorous aerobic activity, it is a high-impact isometric exercise.  According to the calories burned calculator at, a person weighing 180 lbs. burns 103 calories every 15 minutes while shoveling snow.  That’s 410 calories per hour.  
It’s the same amount of calories burned by jogging or running.  Other snow related activities, like skiing, ice skating and snowshoeing offer a similar burn.  Also, using a snowblower to clear your walks and driveways count too, burning 72 calories every 15 minutes.
The number of calories burned varies depending on your weight, with heavier people burning more and lighter people burning less in the same amount of time.  By comparison, walking at a moderate pace to a brisk pace burns about half as many calories.   

It’s important to remember to exercise caution if you have any heart health issues.  Extreme cold conditions combined with high-impact isometric exercises can really stress your heart.  So use good judgement in deciding whether to take on removing snow on your own.  
According to Leigh Vinocur, MD, FACEP, University of Maryland School of Medicine, “People over 55 years of age are 4 times more likely than those younger to have a heart problem when shoveling snow,” he wrote in an article, Preventing Winter Injuries, at  “Studies found only 7% of the injuries seen shoveling were heart related, but for those with a heart condition, all deaths associated with shoveling were due to heart attacks.
Some people worry about injuries that can occur lifting shovelful after shovelful of heavy snow.    Stress and cold are bad for muscles too.  As with most other exercises, be sure to warm up first, get your blood flowing and your joints loosened up before grabbing the shovel.  Make sure you dress in warm layers that can be shed as needed.  
Use your legs to lift, instead of your back, and don’t overload your shovel.  Better to take smaller scoops you can handle than to risk injury by taking too much.  Be sure to breath as you would with other exercises, and pay attention to warning signs like sweating too much, dizziness and nausea.  Rest frequently, and give yourself plenty of time to finish.  After all, if you’re snowed in, what’s the hurry?
There will still be plenty of time to curl up on the sofa and watch your favorite show or movie or read a book.  We only wish we could say these activities offer a calorie burn, but, alas, they don’t.