Shoveling dirt can be a great way to burn calories and get some exercise. But just how many calories does shoveling dirt actually burn? The number of calories burned while shoveling dirt depends on several factors.
Calories Burned Per Hour Shoveling Dirt
On average, a 155 lb person will burn around 408 calories per hour shoveling dirt. The exact number of calories burned will vary based on the person’s weight and shoveling intensity.
|Weight||Calories Burned Per Hour|
|120 lbs||306 calories|
|155 lbs||408 calories|
|190 lbs||498 calories|
As you can see, heavier people tend to burn more calories shoveling dirt than lighter people. This is because it requires more energy for a heavier person to move their body and the shovel.
Factors That Influence Calories Burned Shoveling Dirt
Several factors go into determining exactly how many calories you’ll burn shoveling dirt:
Heavier people need more energy to move their bodies and the shovel, so they burn more calories shoveling. A 155 lb person may burn 408 calories per hour, while a 190 lb person may burn 498 calories.
The more intensely you shovel, the more calories you’ll burn. Light shoveling may burn around 268 calories per hour, while heavy shoveling can burn up to 637 calories per hour.
Type of Terrain
It requires more effort to shovel dirt on uneven or sloped terrain compared to flat, even ground. Shoveling up or down hills can increase the calories burned per hour.
Taking occasional rest breaks can allow you to shovel more intensely during your actual shoveling periods. This can lead to more calories burned per hour.
Type of Shovel
Using a heavier shovel requires more effort and will burn more calories. The same is true if your shovel has a smaller blade width, forcing you to take smaller scoops.
Total Shoveling Duration
Your calorie burn will add up the longer you shovel. Shoveling for 30 minutes won’t burn as many total calories as shoveling for an hour.
Calorie Burn Comparison to Other Activities
Shoveling dirt burns calories at a moderate rate compared to other exercises. Here’s how shoveling compares per hour:
|Activity||Calories Burned Per Hour (155 lb person)|
|Shoveling Dirt||408 calories|
|Walking (3.5 mph)||298 calories|
|Jogging (5 mph)||544 calories|
|Elliptical Machine||365 calories|
As you can see, shoveling dirt burns more calories per hour than walking at a moderate pace but less than higher intensity exercises like jogging or using the elliptical machine.
Tips to Maximize Calories Burned Shoveling
Here are some tips to help maximize the number of calories you can burn while shoveling dirt:
Use a heavy shovel
Opt for a sturdy steel shovel instead of a plastic or aluminum one. The heavier shovel will require more effort to dig and scoop.
Take smaller scoops
Don’t overload the shovel with dirt. Smaller scoops require more repetitions and more overall effort.
Shovel at a continuous pace
Keep your shoveling rhythm steady with few breaks. This keeps your heart rate elevated.
Incorporate hills or slopes
Shoveling on an incline requires more energy than flat ground. Use hills to your advantage whenever possible.
Focus on good form
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and bend your knees to drive the shovel into the dirt. Use proper lifting techniques to avoid injury.
Listen to music
Upbeat music can boost your energy and help you maintain a high shoveling intensity.
Shovel in intervals
Alternate periods of high-intensity shoveling with brief rest periods to shovel longer overall.
The Benefits of Shoveling Dirt
Beyond just burning calories, shoveling dirt offers numerous benefits:
Shoveling works the arms, back, core, glutes and legs, giving you a total-body workout.
The continuous effort of shoveling helps increase your cardiovascular and muscular endurance over time.
Having to dig into tough, compacted dirt and lift heavy shovelfuls builds strength, especially in the arms, back and legs.
The standing, bending and lifting involved in shoveling improves your coordination and balance.
The repetitive nature of shoveling can be meditative. The exercise provides an outlet for stress.
If shoveling outdoors, you get healthy vitamin D from the sunlight.
The Downsides of Shoveling Dirt
Despite the benefits, shoveling dirt does come with some potential downsides to be aware of:
Shoveling involves repetitive motions that can strain the lower back. Proper lifting technique is vital.
Shoveling in hot, humid weather increases dehydration and heat-related illness risk.
Shoveling is physically grueling. It’s important to start slow and gradually increase your shoveling duration to avoid overexertion.
Blisters and soreness
The friction from shoveling can lead to blisters on the hands. Post-shoveling muscle soreness is also common.
Too much sun while shoveling outdoors heightens your skin cancer and sunburn risk without proper sun protection.
Safety Tips for Shoveling
Use these tips to shovel dirt safely and avoid injury:
Warm up first
Do some light cardio and dynamic stretches to prep your muscles before shoveling.
Use proper form
Keep your back straight, bend your knees, and avoid twisting as you dig and lift.
Gloves protect your hands from blisters and calluses.
If shoveling outside, apply broad-spectrum SPF 30+ sunscreen.
Drink plenty of water before, during and after shoveling dirt.
Take frequent breaks to avoid overexertion, especially when starting out.
Listen to your body
Stop immediately if you feel pain, dizziness or excessive fatigue.
The Best Shovel for Dirt
A quality shovel makes dirt shoveling much easier. Look for the following features in a good dirt shovel:
Pointed, narrow blade
A pointed tip helps the shovel penetrate compacted dirt. Narrower blades require less effort per scoop.
Handles around 32 inches long give optimal leverage for scooping and tossing dirt.
A flat leading edge makes it easier to scoop loose dirt off the ground.
Steel adds durability while minimizing flex when digging in.
The D-shape fits the hands’ natural grip to provide comfort and control.
Shoveling dirt provides an efficient calorie-burning workout. On average, you can burn around 408 calories per hour shoveling dirt at a moderate intensity. But the exact amount depends on several factors like your body weight, shoveling pace, terrain and more. Following tips like using a heavy shovel, taking smaller loads and incorporating intervals can help maximize the calories burned. Just be sure to use proper form, wear gloves and pace yourself to prevent injury. If done safely, shoveling dirt offers an excellent full-body workout with plenty of calorie-torching benefits.